International manhunt for killers of Filipina found dead in Kuwait freezer

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Kuwait
Joanna Daniela Demafelis, who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait more than a year after she was first reported missing

Interpol has launched a manhunt to find the killers of a Filipina migrant worker whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait.

The remains of Joanna Daniela Demafelis were reunited with her family in Iloilo today (Saturday, February 17).

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Hans Leo Cacdac, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator, who arranged the repatriation, said: “We are just waiting, hoping there would be justice, that the Kuwaiti government would deliver justice to us.”

Ms Demafelis’ body was found inside a freezer in the Al Shaab district of Kuwait on February 9, a year after she had gone missing.

She reportedly sustained broken ribs and internal bleeding before she died, suggesting she had been severely beaten.

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Investigation and search for the prime suspects are ongoing, Mr Cacdac said in a press conference after handing over the victim’s body to her grieving family.

He reiterated what Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said yesterday after the arrival of the remains of the victim in Manila.

The prime suspects in the death of Demafelis are her employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife who have already disappeared from Kuwait.

“There will be criminal charges definitely under Kuwaiti law. There will be criminal charges to be filed against the suspects,” he said.

They are still awaiting the details on the Interpol’s ongoing manhunt, he added.

“I would think that part of the investigation will be undertaking leads and perhaps some of these leads might be confidential at this stage because of the manhunt,” he said.

Cacdac reiterated OWWA’s support for the family of Joanna and extended their condolences to the family she had left behind.

He said that Joanna, as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), has entitlements and benefits left to the family.

“It is the work of OWWA to make sure that the family receives this lasting legacy from the deceased OFW,” he said.

When asked if President Duterte would visit the wake of the victim, Cacdac confirmed that there was a plan.

“I think there will be a proper announcement from the Office of the President. But yes, the President is determined to visit the family and once again to continue the provision of assistance to the family,” he said.

Demafelis’ wake would be at their house in Barangay Ferraris in Sara, Iloilo. The wake may last two weeks, the family said.

Aside from her immediate family, her relatives and residents of Barangay Ferraris travelled for more than two hours going to the airport in Cabatuan town just to meet and collect her body.

They were outside the cargo bay with tarpaulins asking for justice for the slain victim.

At least 30 rented and private vehicles followed the hearse carrying the body going to the funeral home.

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