A Uber driver sentenced to death

An Uber driver has been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes nearly two years ago. 

Tarek Houshi raped the 30-year-old Briton and strangled her to death with a rope in December 2017 before dumping her body at a roadside. 

Ms Dykes, who worked in Beirut with the Department for International Development, had got into his hire car after leaving a bar in the Lebanese capital.  

The suspect was arrested two days later after being tracked down on security camera footage and confessed to his crimes. 

The Criminal Court of Mount Lebanon delivered its verdict on Friday, according to the country's National News Agency.  

The British embassy said it hoped the court's decision would 'provide a degree of closure' for those close to Dykes. 

'Becky was much loved and is deeply missed,' the embassy said in a statement.  

A Lebanese judge who was tasked with investigating the crime requested the death sentence in February last year. 

Judge Hanna Braidi accused Houshi of raping and killing the British embassy worker in a 'premeditated and deliberate act'.  

According to the judge's investigation, Ms Dykes got into Houshi's vehicle shortly after midnight before the car stopped by a roadside.  

Ms Dykes's body was found dumped on that roadside on December 16, strangled and showing signs of sexual assault. 

Ms Dykes had last been seen alive at a party in Gemmayzeh, a Beirut neighbourhood popular with foreign residents, on a Friday night. 

Lebanese judges routinely call for death sentences in cases of murder, but Houshi's sentence can be appealed. 

Moreover, Lebanon has not carried out an execution since 2004, according to Human Rights Watch.  

'While we welcome the guilty verdict, the UK government continues to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances,' the embassy statement said.  

The Briton's family said at the time that they would 'never fully recover' from their loss.

'For Becky to have her life cruelly taken away in these circumstances is devastating to our family,' they said in December 2017. 

Friends said she had been planning to fly back to the UK for Christmas just hours later.  

Her family said she had 'improved the lives of countless refugees and vulnerable host communities' through her work in Lebanon. 

She had previously spent four years in Hong Kong, teaching English to teenagers. She also worked as a human rights monitor, translating documents from Chinese to English. 

Relatives have since set up a charitable foundation in Ms Dykes's name to help refugees. 

Then-International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said Ms Dykes had 'changed thousands of lives for the better'.   

Judicial sources revealed that Houshi had been previously been arrested twice for alleged harassment and theft.    

However, there was suspicion that he might have faked his criminal record documents in order to work as a driver in the city. 

A Lebanese minister urged his countrymen to avoid Uber in the wake of the killing, calling the ride-hailing firm unsafe.  

Uber said at the time that it was 'horrified by this senseless act of violence'.

stella Posted on November 04, 2019 14:06

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