BEIRUT: The body of a woman who was allegedly beaten to death by her husband in north Lebanon was exhumed and transported to a medical center for further testing Sunday at her family’s request in an attempt to clarify the circumstances of her death.
Roula Yaacoub’s body was exhumed from the family’s cemetery in Akkar’s Halba and transported to a recently developed medical laboratory in Tripoli for more X-rays.
The body was transported in the presence of security and medical personnel approximately two months after the victim was found beaten and comatose at her home in Halba.
According to her family, Yaacoub, 31, was severely beaten by her husband, Karam Bazzi, and died immediately upon arrival to hospital.
The transportation of the body occurred in the presence of the Halba parish priest Fouad Makhoul and lawyers of the plaintiff, Raymond Yaacoub, and of the defendant, George Di, following a decision by Judge Alaa Al-Khatib to expand the investigation.
According to neighbors, Bazzi regularly beat Yaacoub and her five young daughters.
Bazzi remains in detention. A judge’s decision to release him was overturned by the prosecution committee in Akkar in late July.
“There were a lot of political interventions in the case from the beginning, even the doctor’s report was forged,” activist Hayat Mirshad told The Daily Star, confirming that Bazzi had been set to be released at one point.
However, with the family continuously pursuing the case and the body having been transported for more testing, Mirshad said she believed the prospects for a thorough investigation were good.
“The judge seems to be really invested in this,” she said.
Yaacoub’s case caused a national outcry and activists held several protests to push the government to pass a draft law aimed at protecting women from domestic violence.
Parliament’s joint committees endorsed the draft law after Yaacoub’s death and the subsequent protests.
The law would allow women to take their abusers to court, and it also includes the creation of a special unit within the Internal Security Forces trained to deal with domestic abuse.
A judicial source told The Daily Star Sunday that previous investigations had shown Yaacoub’s death was caused by a brain aneurysm.
This latest effort will be the last attempt at determining whether Yaacoub had been subject to domestic violence, the source said.
Those close to the family said that Yaacoub’s mother, Leila Khoury, had asked for an autopsy to determine the cause of death since the very first day, but her calls had gone unanswered.
They added that Khoury was still hoping the complete truth behind the alleged murder would be revealed regardless of how much time has passed since her daughter’s death.
In July, Khoury insisted that she would not rest until the criminal was punished, adding that her daughter managed to maintain all of her good qualities despite the beatings she received at the hands of her husband.