Murder victim Kerry Winter's family given 'blood guardian' status

Court ruling in killer's appeal gives relatives right to accept or reject death sentence if it is applied.

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DUBAI // The family of the murder victim Kerry Winter was given new standing as her "blood guardians" today in the Dubai Court of Appeal, allowing their lawyer to represent them in the proceedings. Their lawyer, Hussien al Jaziri, also petitioned the court to implement al qasas, a legal manoeuvre that gives the family the right to accept or reject a death sentence if it is applied. Mr al Jaziri had been told in early July he could only represent the family in civil actions. The next hearing in the appeal for M A, convicted last month of killing Winter, will be August 8.

M A's 15-year sentence was based on his "situation" and other circumstances of the case, although the Criminal Court of First Instance did not elaborate. The court did say that he was spared the death penalty because no body was ever found in the case. Winter went missing in August 2008. Prosecutors said M A beat her with a baseball bat, took her out to sea on his boat, confined her in a sack and threw her overboard. Two of Winter's neighbours said they witnessed the beating. A separate civil claim filed by Winter's brother, Kurt, seeks Dh400,000: Dh200,000 in blood money and Dh200,000 as moral compensation.