Suspect in killing of Filipina in Kuwait interrogated in Lebanon

Lebanese suspect has been handed over by Syrian authorities to Lebanon and is undergoing questioning

18:16 February 24, 2018

Beirut: Lebanese security and judicial officials said that authorities in Beirut are interrogating a man who is suspected in the death of a Filipina housemaid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait.

A senior official with Lebanon's General Security Directorate refused to provide details other than that the man is being held by the agency and undergoing questioning.

A judicial official said on Saturday Lebanese citizen Nader Essam Assaf was handed over by Syrian authorities to Lebanon Friday. He added that the man's Syrian wife is in Syria.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief reporters.

Assaf and his wife are suspects in the death of Joanna Demafelis.

On Friday, the Philippine foreign secretary said Assaf is under arrest in Lebanon.

The death of Demafelis triggered outrage in the Philippines and prompted the populist President Rodrigo Duterte to order the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers from the oil-rich nation in the Middle East. 

Duterte hit out at the Gulf state as he brandished photos reportedly of the Filipina maid found in a freezer, saying she had been “roasted like a pig”.

The "total ban" on deploying new Filipino workers in Kuwait also included those who had already obtained employment permits but had not yet left for Kuwait.

Hundreds of Filipinos in Kuwait has since been repatriated following Duterte's orders. 

Philippine officials added they were eyeing China and Russia as “alternative markets” for overseas workers.