By Staff writer
Francis Matthew's defence team has requested more time to prepare the case
The appeal hearing of former Gulf News editor, Francis Matthew, who was convicted of killing his wife at their Dubai home, has been delayed to allow the defence team more time to prepare.
Lawyers had been expected to call for the Briton to be freed at a hearing in Dubai Court of Appeal, where Matthew was present, but the case was adjourned until November 6.
It is the second time the appeal hearing has been delayed after it was originally scheduled to take place on September 3.
Matthew had originally told police that their home was broken into by robbers, who killed his wife. At a later interrogation, he confessed that the couple had a heated argument over finances.
He also claimed his wife pushed him and called him a “loser”, after which he followed her into the bedroom and struck her twice on her head with a hammer, according to a police report.
His prison term was later increased to 15 years after the Dubai Court of Appeal found him guilty of premediated murder, rejecting a previous appeal to have his sentence reduced because of temporary insanity triggered by “emotional stress”.
However, Dubai Court of Cassation - the emirate’s highest judicial body - overturned his sentence in December and ordered that his case be reviewed by another panel of judges.
In a further twist, in June, his defence lawyer, Ali Al Shamsi, informed the judge that Jane Matthew had only two legal heirs. One, the couple’s son, signed a waiver dropping criminal charges.
The other – Jane Matthew’s father – refused to drop the charges, but died in March 2019.
With the dead of the accused’s father in law, all private charges against him were dropped, as the right of the victims’ legal successor no longer applies as per UAE law.
Public law, which is the right of the government, still applies.
Under UAE law, however, if the legal successors of a victim waive their right to private law, the court can still impose a penalty under public law, although prison terms are shorter in length in such cases.
The minimum sentence for murder in the UAE is 10 years in jail.