Ranara murder: Kuwait teen gets 15 years for PH maid’s slay

By: Kathleen de Villa - Reporter - Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 16,2023 - 01:35 PM

Jullebee Ranara

The Kuwaiti minor arrested for the gruesome murder of 34-year-old Filipino migrant worker Jullebee Ranara, whose charred body was found eight months ago in a Kuwaiti desert, has been found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Thursday.

Aside from imprisonment for the killing, Turki Ayed Al-Azmi, the 17-year-old son of Ranara’s employer, will serve a year behind bars for driving without a license.

The DFA noted that Al-Azmi could still appeal the decision in the next thirty days, adding that “the lesser penalties meted were due to the accused being a minor.”

‘Speedy resolution’
“The family of (Ranara) has been informed and is grateful for the assistance provided them by the government,” the department said in a statement. “The Philippine government acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the Kuwaiti authorities to effect a speedy resolution of the case in the pursuit of justice for our slain ‘kababayan,’” it added.

Ranara was reported missing on Jan. 22 and was later found dead by the roadside in the desert.

Her body was burned and her head bashed open when found. Kuwaiti media cited an autopsy report saying that Ranara was also raped and was pregnant at the time she was killed.

READ: Kuwait court convicts killer of OFW Jullebee Ranara — DFA

Two days after the body was found, Al-Azmi was arrested and detained by the Kuwaiti police.

Kin knew of cruelty

In an interview, then Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said Ranara had earlier told her family about the teenager’s cruelty.

In a Senate hearing in February, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva also noted that Ranara told her parents how she was once threatened by Al-Azmi with an ice pick.

The murder prompted the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to suspend the processing of job applications of first-time Filipino overseas workers bound for Kuwait.

Before Ranara, two other high-profile cases involving the abuse and death of Filipino domestic helpers—Joanna Demafelis in 2016 and Jeanelyn Villavende in 2018—made headlines and put Philippine relations with the oil-rich Gulf state to the test.

Toots, Jullebee ‘legacy’
According to data from the DMW, there were at least 100,223 Filipinos working in Kuwait as of 2022, more than 47,000 of them in household services.

On Friday, President Marcos lauded the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, the DMW, and Kuwaiti authorities for working on the Ranara case.

“We hope that the appeal process will be conducted fairly, and justice will be served accordingly,” Marcos said.

“I take comfort in thinking that Toots and Jullebee are looking down from heaven with smiles,” he said, referring first to Ople who died of cancer on Aug. 22, and to the slain domestic helper whose family resides in Las Piñas City.

“Their legacy serves as a reminder of our duty to protect and support our fellow countrymen, regardless of where in the world they may be,” the President added.

No aid from employer
Meanwhile, at the government’s Laging Handa media briefing, the DFA said Ranara’s family had not yet received any compensation from her employer since her death.

Foreign Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said all the aid the family had received were from the Philippine government, particularly the DFA, DMW, and Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.

READ: CHR slams killing of OFW in Kuwait, says ‘one death is too many

The family should now be entitled to “compensatory damages” because of the conviction, De Vega said.

As to the specific amount, he said the DFA would wait for the final copy of the Kuwaiti court’s decision.

“In this case, his (Al-Azmi’s) sentence is imprisonment. Blood money is not applicable but there must be moral damages or compensatory damages,” De Vega explained. “We will monitor it. There should be compensation.”

He surmised that Ranara’s employer chose not give any compensation “right away” since the conviction could be still be appealed.

—WITH REPORTS FROM Nestor Corrales and INQUIRER Research

READ: Monsters in Kuwait

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TAGS: Kuwait, Murder, OFW
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