Last updated: 14 April, 2015

Kenyan gets life for murder of US teacher in Qatar

A Qatari court sentenced a Kenyan security guard to life in prison on Tuesday for the murder of American teacher Jennifer Brown in 2012.

Alvine Moseti Anyona is expected to serve up to 20 years — a typical period for those sentenced to life in the Gulf state — and will then be immediately deported.

The court had offered Brown’s Pennsylvania-based family the option to choose the death penalty as punishment but they declined, saying they were “not cruel”.

Brown, 40, was murdered in her company-provided home in November 2012.

She had only arrived in energy-rich Qatar two months earlier to teach at the English Modern School in the city of Al-Wakrah.

Anyona, who was a guard in the building in which Brown lived, confessed to the murder.

But a friend of the defendant who was in court on Tuesday and wished to remain anonymous said that the Kenyan would appeal the verdict.

“He told me he was beaten and he had to admit it. He confessed under duress,” said the friend. “He definitely will appeal.”

The friend added that Anyona had “lots of pain and regrets” about the murder, without specifying what they were.

Anyona had been brought to the courthouse but was not in the dock to hear the verdict read out by the judge.

The friend told AFP that the Kenyan, thought to be in his early 30s, was apparently still unaware of the verdict after being taken away again.

It was left to Anyona’s acquaintance to tell him the sentence that had been handed down by telephone. The friend said he was not surprised by the court’s decision.

The case has moved slowly through the Qatari legal system and was adjourned several times.

Anyona’s family in Kenya had sent financial support but had been unable to fly to the Gulf because of the expense.

He is from Nairobi and is married with a young daughter.

Brown’s family, who are based in the town of Jim Thorpe, had previously criticised the length of time taken by the authorities in Qatar to prosecute the case.

The American family had also been told that it could choose between compensation — “blood money” under Islamic law — or a pardon.

It was one of two high-profile murder cases involving foreign teachers that have recently passed through the Qatari courts.

Last month, Qatar’s Court of Appeal upheld a death sentence against a local man convicted of the 2013 murder of Briton Lauren Patterson.