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The New Arab

Lebanon overturns death sentence for killer of British diplomat

Rebecca Dykes was murdered in December [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 February, 2020

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The death sentence of Tarek Houshieh, who killed British embassy worker Rebecca Dykes, has been overturned.

Lebanese court has overturned the death sentence of a man charged with the rape and murder of a British embassy worker in Beirut, local media reported on Thursday.

Judge Jamal al-Hajjar of Lebanon's highest court overturned the ruling against Tarek Houshieh, who had been sentenced to death in November for the rape and murder of Rebecca Dykes. No reason was given for the decision.

A new court session was set for March 5, the judge said.

Houshieh confessed to murdering 30-year-old Dykes, whose body was found on a roadside in December 2017 showing signs of sexual assault and strangling.

The Uber driver had picked her up after she left a bar in the popular Gemmayzeh district of Beirut, where she went for a colleague's leaving party.

Her body was found close to a motorway on the outskirts of the city.

Police traced Houshieh's car on traffic management CCTV and he was arrested days after the killing.

Dykes was working for the Department for International Development since January 2017, helping Lebanon to cope with the influx of refugees from the war in neighbouring Syria.

At the time, US-based Uber said it was "horrified" by the killing of Dykes and said it was assisting in the investigation. 

The British embassy in Beirut said it hoped the court's decision would provide "a degree of closure" for those close to Dykes, but added that the UK government continued to oppose the death penalty "in all circumstances". 

Lebanon has not carried out any executions since 2004, but judges continue to hand down the sentence, which often means those charged are imprisoned for life.

Shortly after Dykes' death, her family set up the Rebecca Dykes Foundation to support her humanitarian causes.

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