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Family of journalist accused of murder of wife in Dubai testifies

Judge allows suspect to hug son, brother and sister in a rare emotional dramatic scene in courtroom

Gulf News

Dubai: The family of a British journalist, who is accused of premeditatedly killing his wife in July, testified in court that the couple had prearranged plans for family commitments in London last summer.

The 61-year-old British journalist and his 63-year-old wife had paid for flight bookings and prearranged for family commitments for July 2017 (month when the wife was murdered) and were scheduled to attend their only son’s college graduation and the father-in-law’s 90th birthday, testified the suspect’s son, brother and sister before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

In a dramatic, emotional and unprecedented scenes witnessed inside a courtroom on Wednesday, presiding judge Fahd Al Shamsi asked the suspect, Francis Matthew, to come out of the dock for few minutes and allowed him to hug and kiss his son, brother and sister.

It was such an expressive and touching scene that several people were seen crying when the suspect hugged and kissed his only 22-year-old son.

Matthew, a former Gulf News staff member, refuted the accusation of intentionally killing his wife by hitting her twice on the forehead with a hammer when he pleaded not guilty in an earlier hearing in court.

Having flown in from London to testify in court, the 22-year-old told presiding judge Al Shamsi that he had never seen his parents fighting.

The son also testified that he was just about to graduate [few days after the murder date] and his parents were scheduled to attend his graduation ceremony in July 2017 and other family plans.

“He had paid for the tickets and they were prepared to fly,” the 22-year-old witness said.

In response to the presiding judge’s question on whether the suspect had purchased the tickets, Matthew’s 55-year-old brother said: “Yes he had bought the tickets. When I heard what had happened, it was unlike my brother and not his character.”

The suspect’s sister, 57, stated that her brother and his wife had prearranged to fly in and attend family commitments and celebrations in July last year.

She told presiding judge Al Shamsi that her brother had purchased the tickets and they had planned to attend their son’s gradation and the victim’s father’s 90th birthday.

The witnesses further testified that the couple had lived for more than 33 years together in what they described in a marriage life based on love and respect.

However, they told the court that they only recently heard of the financial pressures that the couple had started facing.

Matthew’s lawyer Ali Abdullah Al Shamsi will present his written and verbal defence argument when the court reconvenes on February 28.

Prosecutors charged Mathew of striking his wife on the forehead with a hammer twice and killing her following a heated argument over financial issues. The incident happened around 7 am on July 4 at the British couple’s villa in Umm Suqeim.