Kuwaiti minor arrested for horrific murder of 34-year-old Filipino migrant worker Jullebee Ranarawhose charred body was found eight months ago in a Kuwaiti desert, was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) announced on Thursday.
In addition to imprisonment for the murder, Turki Ayed Al-Azmi, the 17-year-old son of Ranara’s employer, will serve a year in prison for driving without a license.
The DFA noted that Al-Azmi could still appeal the decision within the next thirty days, adding that “the lesser sanctions imposed were due to the fact that the accused was a minor.”
“(Ranara’s) family has been informed and is grateful for the assistance provided to them by the government,” the department said in a statement. “The Philippine government recognizes the efforts undertaken by the Kuwaiti authorities to achieve a speedy resolution of the case with the aim of obtaining justice for our murdered ‘kababayan’,” the statement added.
Ranara was reported missing on January 22 and was later found dead by the side of the road in the desert.
Her body was burned and her head cut open when she was found. Kuwaiti media cited an autopsy report indicating that Ranara had also been raped and was pregnant at the time she was killed.
Two days after the discovery of the body, Al-Azmi was arrested and detained by Kuwaiti police. Kin knew cruelty
In an interview, then-Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said Ranara had already told her family about the teenager’s cruelty.
During a Senate hearing in February, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva also noted that Ranara told her parents how she was threatened by Al-Azmi with an ice pick.
The killing prompted the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to suspend the processing of employment applications for new overseas Filipino workers bound for Kuwait.
Before Ranara, two other high-profile cases involving abuse and death of Filipino domestic helpers – Joanna Demafelis in 2016 and Jeanelyn Villavende in 2018 – made headlines and tested the Philippines’ relationship with the state of the oil-rich Gulf.
Toots and Jullebee “legacy”
According to DMW data, at least 100,223 Filipinos were working in Kuwait in 2022, including more than 47,000 in household services.
On Friday, President Marcos commended the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, the DMW and Kuwaiti authorities for working on the Ranara case.
“We hope that the appeal process will be conducted fairly and that justice will be served accordingly,” Marcos said.
“It comforts me to think that Toots and Jullebee are looking down from heaven with smiles,” he said, first referring to Ople, who died of cancer on August 22, and the murdered domestic help whose the family resides in the town of Las Piñas.
“Their legacy reminds us of our duty to protect and support our compatriots, wherever they are in the world,” the president added.
No help from employer
Meanwhile, at the government press conference in Laging Handa, the DFA said Ranara’s family has yet to receive any compensation from his employer since his death.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said all the assistance the family received came from the Philippine government, particularly the DFA, DMW and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.
The family should now be entitled to “compensatory damages” because of the conviction, De Vega said.
As for the precise amount, he indicated that the DFA would wait for the final copy of the Kuwaiti court’s decision.
“In this case, his (Al-Azmi’s) punishment is imprisonment. Blood money is not applicable but there must be moral damages or compensatory damages,” De Vega explained. “We will monitor him. There should be compensation.
He assumed that Ranara’s employer had chosen not to pay compensation “immediately” as the conviction could still be appealed.
—WITH REPORTING FROM Nestor Corrales and INQUIRER Research
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