BEIRUT: A Malaysian journalist from Al-Jazeera English died over the weekend in the Chouf town of Baaqline, in what officials say was an accidental shooting. The preliminary police report Saturday indicated that Claudia Theophilus, 42, a producer at the Doha based Al-Jazeera English, was accidentally shot at her friend’s house where she was visiting while on vacation.
“Around 2:30 in the morning [Saturday] they were sort of fiddling around with a hunting rifle and in that process the rifle went off, which led to her death,” Malaysian Ambassador Ilango Karuppanan told The Daily Star.
“Forensics indicates it was an accidental death,” he said about the bullet that hit Theophilus.
The friend is reported to still be held in custody while the investigation is being completed.
Theophilus arrived in Lebanon on Jan. 28 for vacation.
Karuppanan said the embassy is in communication with Theophilus’ family and her body will soon be sent back to Malaysia after the completion of the forensic investigation. Memorial services have yet to be set.
“The first step is to repatriate the remains back to Malaysia,” Karuppanan said.
Theophilus previously worked at the Sun newspaper in Malaysia in the 1990s. The newspaper reporting on her death described Theophilus as a hard-nosed principled reporter.
“She was brave but sensitive, helpful to rookies, and tenacious in pursuit of a news break. Her death is a loss to journalism,” editor N. Shashi Kala said in the Sun newspaper.
“I will miss you forever my wonderful crazy colleague. Ur smile is gone from my eyes, but lives on in my heart,” one of Theophilus’ Al-Jazeera colleagues wrote on Twitter, where many other colleagues and friends tweeted similar sentiments.
Al-Jazeera English officials did not return calls for comment.