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Haifa District Court sentenced Shfaram resident Hani Hasson to life in prison on Monday for abducting and murdering his 23-year-old niece in a family "honor killing."

In October 2005, Samar Hasson's body was found hanging in a tree in an olive grove close to the village of Kafr Aablin. Other members of the family, including her father and her uncle, are standing trial separately for their alleged role in the murder.

During the trial, it emerged that Samar was in love with a young Muslim man from the village of Tamra in the Galilee. Her family, however, objected to the relationship, as they are Druze and he a Muslim.

Some 20 days before her death, Samar Hasson made a complaint to police, saying that she had been the victim of violence from her family due to her connection with the Muslim man.

She later rescinded her complaint, fearing that her family would seek revenge.

On the day of the murder, the three men allegedly kidnapped Samar, strangled her and hanged her from the tree, where her body was found a day later.

In his testimony, the defendant said that Samar's father had wrapped the rope around his daughter's neck and began pulling. "He pressed down on her neck and said to me 'turn on the ignition in the car and just go.' We arrived at an olive grove, he opened the door and removed her from the car, tied her to a tree and that's it."

In his ruling, Judge Yitzhak Dar wrote "the only 'sin' committed by the victim, for which she was murdered at the hand of her father and her brother, was choosing a lifestyle that could not be accommodated by the values of the killer."

The judge added "the term 'honor killing' includes only one true word and that is the word 'killing.' The word 'honor' is a complete perversion. There is no honor here, only disrespect to family which leads to abuse and even murder."

Judge Dar said that the murder could have been predicted and prevented.