Slain OFW’s family wants death for couple-suspects

Published February 25, 2018, 1:48 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—The family of Joanna Demafelis, the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) beaten to death and hidden inside a freezer in Kuwait, wants the death penalty for the two arrested suspects.

In a phone interview Sunday, eldest sibling Joejet said it is only fair that death be the ultimate punishment for Nader Essam Assaf and his wife Mona Hassoun.

02172018_ILOILO_OFW-HOMECOMING_YAP02 BITTER REUNION—Joyce Demafelis (center) wails as the wooden box containing the remains of her sister Joanna arrives at Iloilo International Airport Saturday. Family members including mother Eva (in black jacket) fetched Joanna, the Filipina house helper who was found dead inside a freezer in Kuwait earlier this month. (Tara Yap)
(Tara Yap/Manila Bulletin file photo)

“Nagpapasalamat kami nahuli na sila pero dapat maranasan nila ang naranasan ng kapatid ko (We are thankful they were arrested, but they should experience what my sister experienced),” Joejet told Manila Bulletin.

The manhunt led by International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) caught Assaf in his home country of Lebanon and Hassoun in her home country of Syria.

While Joanna’s two employers have been arrested, there is no closure yet for the Demafelis family of Sara town, Iloilo province.

“As the oldest, I’m still very angry at what they did to my sister,” Joejet said in a mix of Filipino and Hiligaynon.

“My parents and my siblings still cannot accept it. Even if the two suspects have been arrested, it does not erase what they did to my sister. Even if people are saying we received a lot of money, it does not pay for the life that was taken away from us,” Joejet decried.

Joanna, who is believed to have been dead for over a year, was physically beaten by the husband and wife before hiding her body inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.

Citing autopsy reports, Joejet said what the Lebanese and Syrian couple did to his 29-year-old sister was “ too brutal.”

“They poured hot cooking oil on my sister. Her bones were broken. They really beat her up,” Joejet pointed out.

The arrest of Assaf came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte visited Joanna’s wake in Sara town, Iloilo province.

During the February 22 visit, Duterte assured the Demafelis family that the Philippine government was pushing to bring justice to the slain OFW. It was Joanna’s death which led to the ban on the deployment of new OFWs to Kuwait.

The Demafelis family said they are still awaiting extradition of the two suspects to Kuwait, where Joanna was murdered.