Syrian denies intent to set spouse on fire

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The trial of Syrian refugee Samer Khtab (27) started in the Haapsalu courthouse of the Pärnu County Court yesterday morning. Khtab stands accused of threatening to set fire to his wife.

Other sessions of the trial conducted in general procedure are scheduled for May 22 and 25. „The court has declared the sessions closed to protect the victim,“ the court's press representative said.

The prosecution has also charged Khtab with physical abuse and rape, local paper Lääne Elu reports. Case prosecutor is Indrek Kalda; the accused is represented by sworn lawyer Janek Valdma.

The county court's press representative told Postimees yesterday afternoon that the Syrian pleaded not guilty. Yesterday's session heard from the victim and witnesses and looked at written evidence.

Khtab has stood in front of a judge in the same case once before. The accused struck a deal with the prosecutor for a conditional sentence of one year and two months in December.

However, the prosecution dropped the agreement before it could be authorized by the court in January as a result of which the court is now hearing the matter in general procedure. Khtab has spent the pretrial period in custody.

This is the first time a person who has come to Estonia based on the law of international protection for foreigners has been charged.

The argument between Khtab and his wife born out of jealousy took place on November 12 last year. Charges suggest Khtab tied his wife's hands with duct tape and brutalized her. Khtab allegedly threatened to burn the woman by dousing her in a flammable liquid. The woman notified the family's support person of the incident who in turn notified the authorities.