Israeli Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering Wife, Hiding Body

Awani Ziadat also ordered to pay 258,000 to family of his wife, whose body has not been found four years after her murder

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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Awani Ziadat in court, 2017.
Awani Ziadat in court, 2017.Credit: Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

An Israeli court handed down on Tuesday a life sentence plus two years in prison in the case of a man convicted four months ago for the 2016 murder of his pregnant wife, whose body has not been found.

The three-judge panel said Awani Ziadat, a resident of the northern city of Nof Hagaliil, murdered his wife, Ahlam, who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, in cold blood. 

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Ziadat, who hid Ahlam's body after the murder, was also convicted of obstruction of justice and providing false information to the police. The court ordered him to pay Ahlam’s wife and brother the maximum amount of compensation to victims allowed by law, 258,000 shekels ($76,240).

Ahlam Ziadat.

The judges noted that Ahlam was only 20 at the time of her death and that “her life was filled with suffering and pain. In her youth, Ahlam was the victim of serious violence, during which acid was sprayed on one of her eyes and her vision was damaged.

They further said: “It was actually when she was about to give birth to her first child and enjoy a bit of happiness, her life was cut short brutally by the defendant. If this were not enough, the defendant hid Ahlam’s body in an unknown location, which has kept intentionally locked in his heart to prevent her being found,” wrote the judges. In doing so he is keeping her from a proper burial and adding to the indescribable suffering of her family, added the judges.

Prosecutors said in their request for a harsh sentence that Ziadat had done everything he could to make it difficult to solve the case and lied to the police, sending them to various locations where he said the body was located. The judges said the women in Ahlam’s family found it difficult to return to their normal lives after the murder and that she had been very close with her mother and sisters

Ziadat initially refused to speak in his defense because he claimed he was innocent, but later stated that he had suffered greatly in life and had no ability to pay a fine. His mother was permitted to speak at the hearing and claimed that Ahlam was still alive and not a victim.

Although Ziadat was ordered to pay the maximum compensation, the sentence was not the maximum the judges could have imposed because they decided to take his financial situation and difficult life into account. As a result, part of the sentences will run concurrently and not consecutively, and he was not sentenced to any probation or fine in addition to the compensation. The judges also asked the Israel Prison Service to take his psychological state into consideration.

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