Employer arrested for Filipina maid's death in Kuwait freezer
After a manhunt spanning several weeks, police have arrested the employer of a 29-year-old Filipina maid who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait. The maid, Joanna Demifelis, was found frozen in her employer's apartment, a year after she went missing. Demifelis's employer, Nader Essam Assaf, was arrested in Lebanon on Friday. His wife Mona, also a suspect, is still on the run.
Philippine foreign affairs secretary thanks Kuwait and Lebanon for assistance
"Assaf's arrest is a critical first step in our quest for justice for Joanna, and we are thankful to our friends in Kuwait and Lebanon for their assistance," said Alan Cayetano, the Philippine foreign affairs secretary.
Demafilis's death had caused an outrage in the Philippines
Demafilis had gone missing in September 2016, and her body was found earlier this month in Assaf's apartment. Demafilis's death sparked outrage in the Philippines, and a diplomatic crisis was triggered after President Duterte imposed a ban on Filipinos against working in Kuwait. Following the discovery of her body, Interpol launched an international manhunt against Assaf and his wife Mona.
Over 250,000 Filipino citizens live and work in Kuwait
After Demafilis's body was discovered, Filipino authorities facilitated the return of over 1,000 "distressed overseas Filipino workers" in Kuwait. Most of these workers worked as household servants. President Duterte has condemned what he believes is a pattern of abuse against Filipino workers. According to official estimates by the Philippines' department of foreign affairs, over 252,000 of the country's citizens live and work in Kuwait.