Honour killing story

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Martina Zaaiter
born 1968
stabbed to death: 24 May 1992
Residence: Essen
Origin: perpetrator: Lebanon; victim: Germany
Children: 1 daughter (3 years old at the time of the crime), 1 son (1 year old)
Perpetrator: her husband Taleb Hussein Zaaiter (age 25)
In April 1988, Martina and Taleb married. They have a daughter and a son. There is a crisis since last 1992, Taleb mistreats his wife.

Martina wants to divorce him after four years of marriage. Taleb does not want to accept this. An argument ensues in the shared apartment. He stabs her 30 times with a kitchen knife.

The perpetrator flees with the children (whom he had previously registered in his passport) in an all-terrain vehicle, which is found a week later in the Netherlands. He gives the children to fellow countrymen who take them to Lebanon for 5,000 guilders - presumably with forged passports. A few months later he himself flees with a Greek passport via Belgium and Canada to the US. There he illegally keeps his head above water with temporary jobs.

One day after the crime, Martina's mother finds her daughter's body on the kitchen floor. The murder weapon lies across her pubic area.

The perpetrator is wanted on an international arrest warrant. But it is only 18 years later that he is arrested in the US in January 2011. He is taken into custody and extradited to Germany. The children are now said to be living in Lebanon as adults.

In October 2011, the trial begins. It turns out that Taleb had been living in the US illegally all these years and wanted to travel to Lebanon for his daughter's wedding. Unable to apply for a visa, he turned himself in to authorities and hoped to be deported to Lebanon. The FBI found the 18-year-old on a warrant and extradited him to Germany on April 15, 2011.

In front of the Essen District Court, Taleb admits the crime, but claims that his wife started the argument and attacked him. For this, he receives a 12-year prison sentence in January 2012 for manslaughter.

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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