Convicted murderer shouts at Qatar court that confession was coerced
In an angry outburst yesterday, a man facing the death penalty for the murder of British teacher Lauren Patterson has accused prosecutors of tampering with evidence presented to the appeals court.
At particular issue appears to be selective editing of a video reenactment that supposedly represents Badr Hashim al-Jabar’s account of what happened the night the woman died.
The video, which was previously presented in a 2014 lower court hearing, was filmed under the prosecutor’s supervision several days after al-Jabar was arrested. It showed the defendant taking investigators through a villa and asserting that he stabbed Patterson in self-defense during a struggle.
But in court yesterday, al-Jabar said the re-enactment was filmed multiple times, and that the version played in court showed the prosecutor’s narrative, rather than his version of events.
“The video is not the same!” al-Jabar shouted in Arabic at the prosecutor from inside a glass prisoner’s box at the Court of Appeals. “I swear by God it isn’t the same. If you’re a Muslim, put your hand on the Quran and swear by it that it’s the same video (and not edited).”
The prosecutor responded by rejecting the suggestion that the video was edited.
Fielding a question from the judge, the prosecutor added that he never instructed the defendant to act out a specific narrative, but rather al-Jabar’s own account of events.
Patterson, 24, was last seen alive leaving a La Cigale nightclub in October 2013 with al-Jabar and his friend, Mohamed Abdallah Hassan Abdul Aziz.
Her burned remains were found hours later in the desert.
In 2014, a criminal court sentenced al-Jabar to death for Patterson’s murder and handed down a three-year prison sentence to Abdul Aziz for helping his friend burn Patterson’s body, as well as damaging and erasing evidence.
Abdul Aziz has since served his sentence and been released.
Qatar’s Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s verdict in 2015. However, earlier this year, the ruling was vacated by the Court of Cassation, which ordered a new trial.
Yesterday was the third scheduled hearing in the retrial.
Al-Jabar’s lawyer spent much of yesterday’s hearing attempting to cast doubt on the validity of the statements his client gave to investigators. He also suggested that Patterson was drunk and acted erratically the night she died.
He said al-Jabar was held in solitary confinement for 23 days before confessing to stabbing Patterson and was prevented from speaking to a lawyer or seeing his family during that time.
“This was punishment and coercion enough for the defendant to say anything the prosecutor wanted,” the defense lawyer told the court.
The attorney argued that this tainted confession also affected the video reenactment. He highlighted how the prosecutor can be heard at one point on the recording instructing al-Jabar to “narrate to us what you told me during the investigation.”
The defense lawyer told the court yesterday that his client should have been free to act out his narrative of events as they “actually happened.”
While the defense lawyer claimed that prosecutors had filmed another version of the reenactment that has not been seen in court, he did not elaborate on its contents except to say that it shows al-Jabar acted in self-defense.
The prosecutor rejected all of the defense lawyer’s suggestions, including dismissing the claim that al-Jabar was held in solitary confinement for more than three weeks before he confessed.
Yesterday marked the first time that the defense lawyer argued in court that the video reenactment was selectively edited.
Patterson’s mother, Alison – who flew to Qatar from the UK for the hearing – questioned why this claim was not presented in an earlier hearing.
“I feel that the defense’s arguments change all the time,” she told Doha News. “What will they think up next time?”
Alison Patterson also expressed dismay that the hearing was forced to come to an abrupt halt because the court room was not equipped with a large screen and projector.
The trial is set to resume on Oct. 9 in a larger courtroom that has video equipment.