x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Philippines to help Dubai murder victim's family and accused killer

The Philippine government will aid man accused of murdering Sharjah woman.

Lorna Lim Varona, centre, and some of her family. The businesswoman's body was found stuffed in a bag in her car.
Lorna Lim Varona, centre, and some of her family. The businesswoman's body was found stuffed in a bag in her car.

ABU DHABI // The family of a murder victim and the man accused of killing her are both to be helped by the Philippine government.

The body of Lorna Lim Varona, 51, a Filipina businesswoman, was found in the boot of her abandoned car in Sharjah on August 31, nearly a week after she went missing from her home in Dubai.

She had been stabbed at least six times.

The next day a Filipino man in his fifties, believed to be a family friend, was arrested. Police say he has confessed to the murder.

Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Philippine department of foreign affairs, said it would provide legal assistance to the accused man.

Overseas Filipino workers who find themselves on the wrong side of the law are assisted through the Philippine government's legal assistance fund.

Priority is usually given to the payment of lawyers to represent those accused of serious crimes or who are facing the death penalty.

Mrs Varona is survived by her husband, Pablo, 65, daughters Maria Lourdes, 29, and Maria Liza, 24, and sons Joseph Luke, 27, and Joseph Louis, 26.

Maria Liza said the death certificate gave the cause of death as cardiac arrest, with stab injuries to the chest, broken bones and internal bleeding.

"It's their [the government's] right," Maria Lourdes said. "But if they're going to provide assistance to reduce his sentence, it doesn't make sense. They should also assist us."

Mr Hernandez insisted that "both parties will be given assistance by our consulate".

"This is to ensure that their rights under UAE law are adequately protected and that a fair judgment will be reached without delay," he said.

Mr Varona accompanied his wife's body home to Manila on October 3. She was laid to rest in Paranaque City, Metro Manila, four days later.

He said Sharjah authorities had not yet told him when the case would be referred to the courts.

"I believe the case is still under investigation," said Mr Varona, who returned to Dubai on October 19. "It will take time."

The accused man's two children in Dubai apologised through the media last month while they were in Manila, but no family member has come forward in person, said Maria Lourdes.

"It's understandable," she said. "They can't face us."