MANILA – The government of the Philippines welcomed on Saturday the arrest of one of the suspects in the murder of a maid working in Kuwait, the Philippine News Agency reported.
Lebanese citizen Nader Essam Assaf was detained in his homeland in connection with the murder of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis, 29, who was found dead in Kuwait. Assaf’s wife Mona, a Syrian, is also wanted in connection with the crime.
“We are thankful for the arrest, but hoping that they be prosecuted and punished for Joanna’s murder,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said.
The victim’s body was discovered in a freezer in the couple’s abandoned flat in the Gulf state this month. She had been reported missing for over one year.
There were reportedly indications that Demafelis had been tortured.
Her death caused outrage in the Philippines and led the government to ban its workers from taking jobs in Kuwait.
The ban has been accompanied by a large-scale repatriation of Filipino workers in Kuwait, with more 1,500 already having returned to the Philippines and the government urging the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to plan to reintegrate 10,000 returning laborers.
“Assaf’s arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance,” said Alan Peter Cayetano, Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines.
The Philippines expects Kuwait to ask for Assaf’s extradition so he can be tried, Cayetano said earlier.