Lebanon upholds death sentence for killer of British woman

BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese court has upheld the death sentence for an Uber driver convicted of killing a British woman who worked for the U.K. Embassy in Beirut five years ago, the embassy said Friday.

According to a statement from the embassy, Lebanon’s Court of Cassation rejected an appeal by Tariq Houshieh in the case and affirmed his guilty conviction in the killing of Rebecca Dykes.

Dykes, who worked for the Department for International Development, was found dead on Dec. 16, 2017, on the side of a road, strangled and showing signs of sexual assault. Houshieh was arrested days later.

The murder shook the expat community in Beirut, where such crimes are rare and where foreigners generally feel safe.

“We hope this verdict will bring some closure for Becky’s family, for the many around the world who loved Becky, and for all those whose lives she touched through her humanitarian work in Lebanon and elsewhere,” the embassy said.

Dykes’ family, in a separate statement carried by Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency, said the final verdict followed multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, court employee strikes and other issues.

The final ruling is “an occasion to remember Rebecca as a young woman who had dedicated her short life to the victims of war and misery,” the statement said. “Her family had never seen Rebecca as motivated and happy as she was during her stay in Lebanon.”

After her death, Dykes’ family and friends set up a foundation in her name “dedicated to the creation of stable communities in Lebanon.”

Houshieh was sentenced to death in 2019, although there is a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in Lebanon. No executions have been carried out since 2004.

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