BEIRUT: A man previously accused of beating his wife to death in the northern Akkar region has been declared innocent by the investigating judge, judicial sources told The Daily Star Friday.
A 13-page report issued Friday by Judge Alaa Khatib concluded that Roula Yaacoub did not die as a result of beating. Her husband, Karam al-Bazzi, was released shortly afterward.
Four medical committees were assigned to the case. Two were comprised of two forensic doctors each, the third of five doctors selected by the Beirut Medical Association, and the fourth of seven doctors selected by both the Beirut and the Tripoli Medical Associations, bringing the total number of doctors who examined the body to 16, the report said.
The selected doctors were specialized in radiology, brain surgery, neurology, bone surgery and forensic science, it added.
Yaacoub, 31, was reportedly found beaten and comatose at her home in Halba last year. She died upon arrival at the hospital. According to Yaacoub’s relatives and neighbors, Karam beat his wife and their five daughters on a regular basis.
Yaacoub’s case prompted wide condemnation from activists, women’s groups, and local Halba residents who urged Parliament to approve a draft law aimed at protecting women from domestic violence.
According to the judge’s report, “the doctors conducted an autopsy as well as scanned the body, and results showed that it was free from the effects of a beating or of fractures.” The report also said that two of the daughters, Gladys, 12, and Gabrielle, 11, were inside the house when their mother died. Both daughters confirmed in their statements that Yaacoub was never beaten by Bazzi, but instead was making her way to the living room when she fell to the floor, and that Bazzi intervened to try to save her, asking his daughters to call for help.
“The daughters’ statements correspond with those of two witnesses who were passing by the house, who said that Gladys had come out and called for help, saying, ‘Hurry mister, I don’t know what happened to my mother,’” the statement added.
“The plaintiff’s accusation of a beating remained devoid of evidence on the medical and realistic level as there are no signs of violence on the body of the deceased and [Yaacoub] was not beaten that day.”