Couple jailed for murder of eight-year-old girl

Couple jailed for murder of eight-year-old girl
Locals gathered in central Karlskrona on April 30th to commemorate Yara Alnajjar on the first anniversary of her death. Photo: Charlotte Nilsson/TT
Sweden's court of appeal has ruled that eight-year-old Yara Alnajjar was murdered by her uncle and his wife.

The ruling saw the sentence for the girl’s uncle increased from six to 14 years. Blekinge district court in southern Sweden had previously convicted him on the lesser charges of assault and manslaughter. 

The appeals court upheld a life sentence for the man’s wife, who was found to have beaten the girl to death with a rolling pin at the couple’s home in Karlskrona on April 30th last year.

The case is almost certain to go to the Supreme Court, with the woman continuing to insist she is not guilty. 

“She says she's innocent and did not kill the girl,” her lawyer Eric Widner told the TT news wire. 

The ruling was welcome news for prosecutor Pernilla Åström, who had pushed for the girl’s uncle to be convicted of murder.

“Whether it was one them or both of them that dealt the deadly blows really doesn’t matter. Both of them are equally responsible as guardians,” she told the court. 

Eight-year-old Yara’s uncle and his wife had been tasked with caring for the young girl from Gaza, who was sent to Sweden by her parents in February 2013. 

However, a district court found that instead of ensuring her safety and meeting her needs, her female guardian beat her to death with a rolling pin, inflicting wounds all over her body during a Swedish festival, Walpurgis Night, in Karlskrona.

It ruled that the uncle, who was present, did nothing to intervene.

In February, the 31-year-old woman was given a life sentence for the murder while her 32-year-old husband, Yara’s uncle, received a six-year sentence for serious assault and involuntary manslaughter.