A Lebanese judge on Thursday handed down a death sentence to a man accused of beating his wife to death with a pressure cooker, in an unprecedented verdict that is being hailed as a breakthrough in Lebanon's struggle with domestic violence.
Mohammed Adnan al-Nhaily was accused of premeditated murder in "violently and viciously" beating his 34-year-old schoolteacher wife Manal Assi to death on February 8, according to the Lebanese news source The Daily Star.
The death penalty request is based on Article 549 of Lebanon's Penal Code, meaning there is no possibility of a lesser sentence. The verdict is hailed as revolutionary by Lebanese women's rights activists, who note six major domestic violence cases this year have raised calls for a new law on the issue.
The lethal abuse reportedly stemmed from an argument over alleged infidelity with another man, whose wife is said to have told Nhaily about the affair. However, Assi's lawyer Raed Hamdan argued the affair was a fabrication to justify the homicide.
“I personally asked Manal’s husband if he would do what he did again if he had the chance and he proudly said yes," reported Hamdan. "The autopsy report did not even mention that most of the hair on her head had been ripped off, that her teeth were all broken along with her toes. The report was manipulated."
Women's rights has been a weak point in the Arab world; a report last November found Egypt to be the worst women's rights abuser in the Arab world. A UN report in April found that 99.3% of Egyptian women and girls had been sexually harassed.
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap survey found two weeks ago that Israel is the best country in the Middle East for women's rights.