A man was found guilty Monday by the Nazareth District Court of murdering his pregnant wife over three years ago, even though her body has not been found.
Awni Amer Ziadat was convicted of murdering his wife, Ahlam Ziadat, who was in the advanced stages of pregnancy, on November 24, 2016, during a short vacation in the nearby city of Nazareth Illit.
He was convicted via videoconferencing technology under restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis.
At the time of Ahlam’s disappearance, Ziadat reported that his wife had been kidnapped but CCTV footage later uncovered showed him leaving the vacation rental, carrying his wife’s apparently lifeless body. According to the indictment, he strangled her to death.
Ziadat had reportedly plotted his wife’s murder for some time.
Following the murder, Ziadat was said to have driven to his sister’s home in Nazareth and requested tools that he could use to hide the body. After he concealed the body, he returned to his sister’s house and boasted that he had choked his wife to death and that her body would never be found.
The next day, Ziadat visited his wife’s mother and sister, and told them that she had been kidnapped. He also went to the police and reported the fabricated kidnapping, saying his wife had been abducted while they were driving from Haifa to Nazareth.
Ziadat was acquitted of a charge of abduction.
The murder set a legal precedent, marking the first time in Israel that a man was charged with killing his wife when there was no body and he had not confessed to the crime.
In the years following Ahlam’s murder there has been rising awareness of the problem of violence toward women in Israel.
Eight women have been murdered and police and social service organizations have reported a major rise in domestic violence complaints since the start of lockdown measures in March to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Thousands of people protested in Tel Aviv last week against the trend, calling for government action to end violence against women.
Demonstration organizers said most of the NIS 250 million ($71 million) approved in 2017 for national programs to prevent domestic violence have not yet been allocated.
Also last week, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry published figures that showed a 112 percent increase in the number of complaints about domestic violence received by its hotline in May compared to April.