BEIRUT: The Ethiopian consulate in Lebanon has filed a lawsuit against Ali Mahfouz, the man who was caught on tape beating domestic worker Alem Dechasa outside her consulate.
Dechasa committed suicide Wednesday. Asaminew Debelie Bonssa, Ethiopia’s consul general in Lebanon, told The Daily Star Thursday that “we have already sued him [Ali Mahfouz].” He declined to give the details of the lawsuit, saying it was “a legal issue that cannot be made public,” adding that the suit was in process before the consulate was aware of Dechasa’s death but that with this development “everyone is expecting something out of this.”
In a video released by LBCI last week, Dechasa, 33, was seen moaning as a man, later identified as Mahfouz, beat and tried to force her into a car outside the Ethiopian consulate, aided by another man.
Security and judicial sources told The Daily Star that Mahfouz was briefly arrested last week, but was released after leaving his address with the magistrate. They were not able to confirm the consulate’s lawsuit.
Bonssa said that he has not received any police or medical report regarding Dechasa’s death, but said “we need the whole autopsy as [is] internationally acceptable,” adding that this was necessary especially “when somebody dies ... under the care of the hospital it is really unexpected.”
Dechasa was taken to the Psychiatrique de la Croix Hospital, known as Deir al-Salib, after the incident around three weeks ago. She died in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Bonssa said that doctors told him she hanged herself using her bed sheets.
Mahfouz told LBC that Dechasa had attempted suicide three times.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 16, 2012, on page 1.