Monday, July 28, 2014

Provoked To Murder, or, It's Always The Woman's Fault

Shahzad Hussain thought that his estranged wife was having an affair so he attacked her and the man he thought was her lover.

So it's her fault, right?

That's how Mr. Hussain's legal counsel wanted the jury to see the issue when Mr. Hussain was tried for murder and attempted murder. The judge, however, did not paint the proper picture for the jury and now the whole thing has to be re-adjudicated.
The cousin made him do it

During the initial trial, Mr. Hussain claimed that he suspected his wife was cheating on him. The scene is quite muddy, what with Mr. Hussain and his then wife living with the other man in the same apartment. If he really did think the missus was having an affair with the flatmate, why not give the flatmate the boot or go find another place to live?

The jury may have wondered the same, but that isn't the question that plagues Mr. Hussain.

The party of the third part was his wife's cousin, and somehow related to himself as well. You might think that a meeting with the aunts and uncles would be the proper venue to hash out these sorts of differences, what with the marriage having been arranged by the family. The relatives were still living back in Pakistan and how do you discuss scandalous behavior over the phone where who knows who else is listening and then the neighbors get wind of it and before you know it the whole village is gossiping about you behind your back. The shame. The infidelity just couldn't be treated with such a lack of privacy.

Given that level of distrust, it is no surprise that the marriage eventually failed and the aggrieved wife left in 2010. Mr. Hussain clearly did not leave the woman alone after she demonstrated quite clearly that she was finished with her spouse and his excessive jealousy that bordered on paranoia. Again, the jury might have felt that he had no business stabbing her and the cousin nearly a year later, but Mr. Hussain is riding the provocation horse because the law does allow for action taken as the result of being provoked. In which case it's manslaughter, not capital murder, and the sentence is less.

The Court of Criminal Appeal has determined that the jury did not receive proper instruction on the nuance of provocation because the trial judge failed to adequately explain things.

Mr. Hussain has been granted a new trial, in which he will again attempt to demonstrate that it was he was provoked by his ex-wife's behavior and that was why he tried to kill her and successfully murder her cousin because he thought she was having an affair. It was her own fault, and he believes he can make a jury believe that.

It's a tough sell, because the jury will still be considering the rest of the facts surrounding the trial. Little details, like Mr. Hussain disposing of the knife in a bin after the attack. And then not calling the emergency services when he saw that the two victims were seriously injured. And then getting rid of his phone and sim card. When the gardai finally caught up to him, he claimed that he didn't know how the woman got hurt and she must have fallen on the knife.

Not exactly the sort of thing a jury wants to hear from a man proclaiming his innocence becsause he was provoked.

And the provocation? That was the cousin, telling Mr. Hussain that they were in Ireland and not Pakistan and people could do what they liked.

Mr. Hussain may want to insist on a jury comprised entirely of men because women are absolutely not his peers, but he will then discover that he is, indeed, not in Pakistan but in Ireland.

Then again, he's in the nation that locked up women for the crime of being attractive to men. That provocation excuse just might find an accepting ear.

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