Libyan Nizar El Gadi was this evening sentenced to life in prison after jurors found him guilty, by eight votes against one, of murdering his former wife Margaret Mifsud.

Mr El Gadi will also be locked up in solitary confinement for 10 days five times a year.

Contrary to popular belief, life in prison in Malta actually means dying in prison. Moreover, there is no parole for homicide.

As Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi read the sentence, the victim's mother Tessie turned to Mr El Gadi and told him "your wish has come true". (She was referring to his wish to live in Malta for good).

The family burst into applause which continued as they were escorted out of the courtroom.

Mr El Gadi was seen making a 'gun' gesture towards the victim's mother.

Dr Mifsud, a lawyer, was found asphyxiated in her car in Bahar ic-Caghaq on April 19, 2012.

The jurors reached their verdict after just four hours of deliberations following a three-week trial.

After the jurors read their verdict, the prosecution called on the court to give Mr El Gadi a life sentence while the representatives of Ms Mifsud's family called for life with solitary confinement.

Mr El Gadi's defence, however, argued that it would be cruel and harsh to give his client a life sentence as he wanted to reestablish contact with his children. This would not be possible with life. The defence also said Mr El Gadi would be appealing the verdict.

The past three weeks were characterised by the testimony of numerous witnesses, including the accused and the victim's two young daughters.

Margaret MifsudMargaret Mifsud

The court heard how, a month before her death, Dr Mifsud had filed a police report after he had tried to strangle her.

The accused, who had lived in the Birkirkara home of the Dr Mifsud's parents together with his former wife and two children, was booted out of the house, although the two maintained contact for the sake of the children.

The marriage was annulled in 2006.

Forensic expert Mario Scerri insisted that the victim trusted her aggressor since she offered no resistance whatsoever, except for a slight bruising on the wrist, indicating a possible last minute reaction. Experts said that Dr Mifsud’s killer applied heavy pressure on her chest, causing her to die a painful death of asphyxia.

DNA expert Dr Marisa Cassar concluded that a mix of genetic profiles were detected beneath the victim's fingernails, but there was a strong DNA predominance of the accused.

Defence lawyer Martin Testaferrata Moroni Viani argued that it was “physically impossible” for his 60-kilogramme client to have overpowered his former spouse, whom he described as not having “a slight frame”.

The accused insisted that he had shared a tryst with the victim a few hours before her death, before she headed to the Xemxija restaurant where she spent the evening with her colleagues.

The lawyer appealed to the jury to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty, to send the authorities a message that the case should never have ended up before a jury.

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