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Suspect in Philippine Maid’s Death Arrested in Lebanon



The mother of Joanna Demafelis, a Filipina worker whose body was found inside a freezer in Kuwait, by a casket containing her daughter’s body in Manila..

Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A Lebanese man suspected in the death of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait has been arrested, the Philippine foreign secretary said on Friday.

The discovery of the body of the maid, Joanna Demafelis, on Feb. 6 in an apartment in Kuwait City, where it had reportedly been kept for more than a year, spurred outrage and refocused attention on the plight of poor Filipinas toiling as maids abroad.

Alan Peter Cayetano, the foreign secretary, said he had told President Rodrigo Duterte about the arrest in Lebanon of Nader Essam Assaf, but added that Mr. Assaf’s Syrian wife, who is also a suspect in Ms. Demafelis’s death, remains at large. Mr. Assaf and his wife employed Ms. Demafelis as a maid in their home.

Ms. Demafelis’s death prompted Mr. Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many abuses have been reported.


President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines speaking to the parents of Joanna Demafelis during a wake for Ms. Demafelis in the town of Sara, Ms Demafelis, who was found dead and her body stuffed n an apartment’s freezer in the Kuwait City home of the couple who had hired her as a maid.

Richard Madelo/Philippine Presidential Office, via European Pressphoto Agency

After attending Ms. Demafelis’s wake on Thursday in the central Philippines, Mr. Duterte told reporters the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait would continue and could be expanded.

Ms. Demafelis’s body bore torture marks and signs that she was strangled, Mr. Duterte said, adding that the government is conducting an assessment to “find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment.”

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