BEIRUT: The Higher Judicial Council defended Friday an investigative judge's recent decision to declare innocent a man accused of beating his wife to death, saying there was no evidence to back such allegations.
“There was no sufficient evidence to believe that the defendant caused the death of his wife, Roula Yaacoub, by beating her or [committing] any other form of deliberate violence, which acquitted him of allegations against him,” the council’s media office said in a lengthy statement.
The council said three autopsy reports, including one by a committee of doctors from the Order of Physicians in Beirut, did not find any medical evidence indicating that the cause of death was a blow to the head as alleged by Yaacoub’s relatives.
Yaacoub, 31, was reportedly found beaten and comatose at her home in the northern town of Halba last year. She died upon arrival at a nearby hospital.
According to Yaacoub’s relatives and neighbors, Karam beat his wife and their five daughters on a regular basis.
But a 13-page report written by Judge Alaa Khatib and released Jan. 24 concluded that Yaacoub did not die as a result of violence. Her husband, Karam al-Bazzi, was released shortly afterward.
The judicial council backed this up Friday by saying in that reports by two forensic doctors who examined Yaacoub’s body following her death showed she died due to an aneurysm.
"The reports said there were no signs of violence on the head given that there were no skull fractures. Therefore, the death was natural and the result of a disease,” said the council, quoting the medical report.
The council said that it later tasked two other doctors to examine the body after Yaacoub’s relatives raised suspicion of the validity of the previous report.
The medical examiners carried an autopsy on Yaacoub’s head and backed the initial coroners’ report.
"They noted that the result of death was natural and as a result of a disease and not a violent act and that bruises on the body were superficial and could not have been the cause of death,” the council said.
In its statement, the council said a medical committee comprised of several doctors from the Order of Physicians was tasked after the woman’s family repeatedly doubted the results of the second report.
The doctors dug up Yaacoub’s body and used a specific type of scanner to examine the head.
"The committee reported that there was no dislocation of the neck,” it said.
The council also said claims the husband beat his wife to death were not backed by statements from his two young girls.
"Two of Yaacoub's daughters ... said that [their father] did not beat their mother on that day and that their mother collapsed after entering the living room. They said their father rushed to the room and tried to wake her up,” the council said.
The father then asked one of his daughters to get help from the neighbors.
According to the council statement, the 12-year-old who went told one of the neighbors: “Mister, help my mother. I don’t know what’s wrong with her."
Her statement, the council noted, did not indicate the mother had been beaten.
Statements by Yaacoub’s girls were corroborated by several neighbors and passersby who were also called for help.