Kin of OFW executed in Saudi ask gov’t help for return of remains

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 March) — The family of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from nearby Koronadal City in South Cotabato who was executed on Monday for killing his employer in Saudi Arabia seven years ago has sought the national government’s assistance for the immediate repatriation of his remains.

Nerlyn Esteva, wife of the late OFW Joven Esteva, said Tuesday they want her husband’s remains returned home so they can properly mourn and give him a fitting burial.

Joven originally hailed from Barangay Manili, Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat but later married and settled down in Purok Paghiliusa, Barangay Topland in Koronadal City.

“We want him to come home. We want to see even just his body,” Nerlyn said a radio interview.

Joven, a family driver, was convicted of murder in 2007 for killing his Saudi employer as well as injuring his employer’s son.

The national government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), assisted Joven in his case but the Saudi government upheld his death sentence after the victim’s family refused to forgive him.

The DFA confirmed Joven’s execution in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at 9 a.m. Monday, Saudi time, or 2 p.m. in the country.

Nerlyn said they had no idea that her husband would be executed on Monday and they were just informed about it late Monday afternoon.

“We did not know anything about it. It was devastating for all of us,” she said in between sobs in the vernacular.

She said that several hours prior to the scheduled execution, her husband was able to call her but did not mention anything about it.

Joven just told her to start processing her passport and of their four sons so they could visit him in Riyadh.

Nerlyn said they also received calls from the lawyer handling the case and personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development who have been assisting them in their ordeal.

“We wanted to visit him last year but he doesn’t want us to see him,” she said.

Nerlyn said they had learned through a cousin who is also working in Saudi Arabia that her husband had converted to Islam while in detention.

Because of his conversion, she said Joven’s body could have been buried already based on Islamic tradition.

“We’re coordinating with the DFA and other agencies to evaluate our options. For us, we really want his body returned home,” she said.

Joven arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2006 to work as driver for the family of a professor at a university in Riyadh.

His employers reportedly treated him well until he started experiencing health problems, including insomnia, in January 2007.

Unable to sleep for months, Joven was sent by his employer to a clinic for check-up but it turned out negative.

Jocelyn Mandadero, Joven’s mother-in-law, said the latter then sought his employer’s permission to just return home but was turned down.

Joven’s parents even sent some P15,000 to him to cover for his airfare but to no avail.

She said they later learned that Joven had a heated argument with his employer, stabbed him to death and nearly killed his son.

A Saudi court eventually found Joven guilty of murder and sentenced him to death by beheading.

Despite an appeal by the embassy that Joven was not in his right state of mind during the incident, Saudi’s Court of Cassation re-affirmed the death sentence. (MindaNews)