Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Sultanate sentences two foreigners in slayings of relatives

AFP , Muscat, Oman

Oman's criminal court on Saturday sentenced a US woman to death for murdering her husband and, in a separate case, a German woman received life imprisonment for killing her father.

Rebecca Thompson, 43, was found guilty of killing her oil-worker husband, Mark Lee Thompson, the official news agency ONA announced.

It said the court of appeal had convicted her of the "premeditated murder of Mark Lee Thomson, an American citizen, and sentenced her to death."

Her 14-year-old son by a previous marriage, William Derek Green, received a three-year suspended jail sentence and deportation for complicity.

Two Omanis received 10 years' imprisonment for complicity.

The husband was battered to death on December 30 last year and his body was partly burned.

During the trial, which concluded April 21, Thompson claimed she was provoked into killing her husband with an iron bar.

Defense lawyers invoked provisions of the law related to provocation, which could have resulted in the sentence on Thompson being reduced to one year, a legal source said during the trial. Death sentences are usually carried out by firing squad in Oman.

German physiotherapist Dana Gerlish was sentenced to life in prison for killing her father in a verdict that also saw her alleged Omani lover and their three Omani accomplices receive the same jail term.

"The court convicted Dana Girlish, a German woman, of premeditated murder of Gert Manfred Girlish and passed against her a life imprisonment sentence which also provided for deportation after serving her sentence," ONA said.

"The German victim was shot dead and his body found in a residential district in Muscat governorate on December 2 last year," the report said, adding that four accomplices were also sentenced to life in prison.

Gert Manfred Gerlish, a 53-year-old car mechanic, was shot in the head at point-blank range in December.

A diplomat said the three other Omanis included "the one who supplied the weapon, another who pulled the trigger and one who had mediated to organize the negotiations and money."

The prosecution had alleged that Gerlish, who pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder, decided to have her father killed because he opposed her relationship with her alleged lover, whose name has not been divulged in the Omani media.

All of Saturday's sentences can be appealed. In both cases, the court reached its verdicts on May 8, but they were kept secret and referred to the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalili, who had the final word on the fate of all those accused.

At the time, diplomats objected to the rulings for having been issued together after court sessions which they said had been conducted virtually on the same dates and one after the other.

The mufti had 60 days to look into the cases and give his opinion before the verdicts could be publicized. The mufti, who is authorized either to uphold a sentence or reduce it, reviews such cases along with the sultanate's top two legal and criminal affairs advisers.

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