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Lawyer: British editor should serve 2 years in Dubai killing

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The lawyer of a British newspaper editor convicted of killing his wife with a hammer asked a Dubai court on Wednesday to reduce his client's sentence to two years in prison, meaning he could be freed before the end of the year if the court grants his request.

Former Gulf News editor Francis Matthew had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for bludgeoning his wife Jane Matthew to death at their home in 2017. However, a series of appeals has seen his sentence change and his case go before Dubai's Court of Appeal.

Matthew's lawyer Ali al-Shamsi told the court that evidence proves the crime was not premeditated and that he had no previous intent to kill. "Premeditated murder must have clear evidence or a confession," al-Shamsi said.

Prosecutors have argued that Matthew had enough time to reconsider his actions when he followed his wife to the bedroom before her death, which showed intent to kill. Al-Shamsi also said Matthew's son previously dropped the charges against him, and that his wife's father, Jane's only other next-of-kin, was on the verge of dropping the charges as well before he died.

According to law in the United Arab Emirates, a sentence can be reduced if a victim's next of kin waives their right to press charges, but to no less than seven years for premeditated murder as is Matthew's case. Judges can reduce the sentence even further for various reasons, including a suspect's age.

Jane's brother Peter Manning however told The Associated Press it was a "straightforward lie" for al-Shamsi to claim that their father was going to forgive Matthew before his death. Matthew had succeeded "in getting the court to blame not the person holding the hammer, but his defenseless victim," Manning said.

The court is expected to rule on Matthew's request on Nov. 27. Matthew, whose lawyers had unsuccessfully argued he suffered from a temporary insanity, was first sentenced to 10 years last year for manslaughter, which was appealed. Charges against him were then changed to premeditated murder in the Court of Appeal and his sentence was increased to 15 years. Then the emirate's top review court, Dubai's Court of Cassation, overturned the 15-year sentence and ordered a retrial.

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