Roy Hamouche’s Murder Is Horrific, But Calling For The Death Penalty Isn’t The Answer


The barbaric murder, at the hands of Mohammad Ahmar and this two friends, of Roy Hamouch, a 24 year old architect, has quickly trumped all other discussions taking place in the country as the entire nation reels from the state of lawlessness we’ve reached. The sad reality is that Roy’s murder isn’t the lone event we all want it to be. It’s become part of a pattern we have in this country, with lack of gun regulations and unbreakable wastas.

With some people being always above the law, and helping those that propagate their agenda be above the law with them, can we truly hope for justice to be served in any of these murders that are becoming more frequently?

As I said in my blog post on the issue yesterday:

In this land they call a country, rule of law does not exist. Some people here can do whatever they want – even kill – and still get away with it through the help of the many Lebanese that are always above the law, on whom there’s no accountability, who never face consequences for their actions.

How many times is the exact same scenario supposed to be repeated before we realize that the way they’re forcing us to live in this jungle is not acceptable anymore, that our lives are not at the mercy of airheads who are bolstered by the power of their wasta and the barrel of their gun.

As such, the more people talked about the horrific killing of Roy Hamouch, the more I’ve seen people demand for the death penalty to be reinstated in Lebanon. So I asked the following question, with a poll, on Twitter and – so far – I’m surprised to find that over 60% of people approve of the death penalty in Lebanon:

The main justification I got for people voting “yes” was that in this lawless nation, the only way to make sure Roy’s killers receive the punishment they deserve is through capital punishment. Some are even calling for reinstitution of public executions. But is calling for a death penalty when emotions are high and reason put on the back-burner the answer to such scenarios?

I’d be lying if I said that question hasn’t conflicted me. You see, my family was touched more than 18 years ago in a murder in the vein of Roy’s, which was all over the news for 3 days, and had everyone talking and coming up with all different kinds of conclusions.

While on a hunting excursion in my hometown, my uncle and his friend encountered an acquaintance of theirs who got out of his house and opened fire on them both. What followed was a night-long stand off with the Lebanese army, the Red Cross unable to collect the bodies of my uncle and his friend, and – ultimately – a call from then president Emile Lahoud to kill the man because capturing him had proved to be immensely difficult due to his Civil War training with a Northern Lebanese political party.

I’d like to think that if my uncle’s murderer hadn’t been killed back then, I wouldn’t want him to receive the death penalty today. Partly because I think death is the “easy” way out for people like him, and partly because I firmly believe that death penalty is a political ploy that serves no purpose and wouldn’t have brought my family closure.

To say the death penalty is a fair and unbiased punishment is delusional. For context, the last time an execution happened in Lebanon was in 1997, and even then the three men who received the death penalty were divided according to sectarian lines: one of them was Maronite, another was Sunni, and the third was Shiite. This is to say that even in such matters of punishment, our sectarian system interferes to make sure that sects don’t feel particularly targeted. Does that translate in a fair punishment when those who receive death are chosen based on how they pray?

The fact of the matter is, unpopular an opinion as it is, the murderers of Roy Hamouch are also victims of the Lebanese condition, as we all are: a country ruled by warlords who propagate this tribalism through allowing people like those who killed Roy to do what they do, and be protected in the process. They keep them poor, uneducated and helpless, with the only hope of a “decent” future for them being them under the wings of some patron as they do his bidding.

The simplest example to that is that Mohammad Hassan Ahmar, the murderer of Roy, being from a poor village in the Baalbak caza named Iaat. He has been in and out of the Roumieh prison before, and has a few more warrants against him. Our system has failed Mohammad. He is a victim of his own conditions, not that that justifies what he did in any way.

We can’t hope for a developed and civil country when we’re advocating for horrific punishments for equally horrific crimes. It’s hypocritical of us to complain about Lebanon not being “civilized” enough when we’re calling for “uncivilized” punishments.

The death penalty has been proven not to deter from horrific crimes, but is actually a tool used by governments to oppress. You can be certain that any Lebanese who receives it is one who doesn’t have a strong enough wasta to protect him from being hanged or shot or receive a lethal injection. Can you imagine the son or daughter of a politician who does as horrific a crime as the murder of Roy Hamouche receiving it?

Calling for death sentences means that we think the people in question are non-redeemable human beings who are not worth being given a chance at trying to better themselves – even if that occurs in a life sentence without parole. This is why reforming our prison system is paramount to enable people, like Mohammad, who have been incarcerated before to actually have a shot at rectifying their lives when they’re released, and not fall back on the only thing they know: being criminals.

Nothing can give back Roy’s family the precious person they lost. The death of my uncle’s killer wasn’t the healing closure that you’d expect in mending the gaping wound that his horrific death left in our family. We need to be more humane humans for us to maybe start healing.

Until then, rest in peace Roy Hamouche. May your parents find solace in you becoming a part of every Lebanese household, and touching the hearts of everyone in this country.

10 thoughts on “Roy Hamouche’s Murder Is Horrific, But Calling For The Death Penalty Isn’t The Answer

  1. Pingback: Justice for Roy: When Lebanon Is A Full Blown Jungle, Not A Country | A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

  2. the only reason most people are asking for death penalty is that they are very sure the murderers will stay a few months or days in prison and will certainly be released under the pressure of one of our influent leaders….we have seen it happen every single time because such murderers are always under the protection of one of our leaders… that is why even if one is against death penalty he would like to see the murderer even publicly punished and hanged so that others will think twice before doing horrific acts and be suspicious at least that their leaders might not be able to protect them … is always, always , the case…..if we had confidence in our law makers our leaders our prisons maybe nobody would ask for death penalty and let these bastards rot to death in Roumieh jail ….


  3. I fully agree that reinstating the death penalty is a bad idea.
    I would add that Norway doesn’t even have life sentences (27 years maximum I think), treats very decently inmates and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, as well as one of the lowest crime rates among former inmates.
    And to anyone who would say “what about personal responsibility?”: whenever some guy becomes successful everyone rushes to trumpet his/her influence on him, and whenever some guy murders everyone dissociates from him.


  4. Elie I am terribly sorry about your uncle. I hope & pray for peace of mind for you & your family…

    … & also re. the matters you are writing about now — for Lebanon.

    ‘Come to me — all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ — Matthew 11:28


  5. Death penalty is definitely not the answer. It reinforces the problem, legalise murder by the State and absolves citizens and civil society of the responsibility they must take in making a justice and human rights based society.Don’t go there! Life More Abundant!



    • Sweet naive neurotic Audrey. You were probably sipping on your camomile tea in the wee hours of the morning while reading this article and pondering the preciousness of life. Allow me to pontificate a bit for your edification. So sit back and enjoy your prescription anti-depressants while I shed some light on this dark story.

      You see a young, law abiding, productive member of society was EXECUTED by a self loathing PoS named Mohammad for reasons your ‘1st world problems’ would not be able to fathom because while you enjoy the security and safety that your government provides, the Lebanese people don’t. If the government does not intervene to set examples out of outlaws like this sack of hard boiled feces, extra judicial and vendetta killings will begin to creep again into Lebanese society and that will only exasperate the lack of justice that has been plaguing Lebanon. So in order to inch a wee bit closer to a civil society, the government NEEDS to exemplify the repercussions of Mohammads action vis a vis a public execution.

      In the grand scheme of things Mohammad and his goons should be executed because they have no remorse for the crimes they committed. You see when their sentence gets commuted and they get to go home to their first cousin and breed, their progeny would most likely grow in their filthy shade and carry these barbaric genes that are detrimental to the development​ of a productive society.

      Audrey. You have no idea what you’re being critical about. Please spare us your regressive liberal views and worry about issues that really matter to you, like could your husband really be in the office this late or why is he always going on “business trips”.


  6. so the killer of roy hamoush is now ‘a victim’ of a system that ‘failed him’. if we were to follow mr fares’ logic, we can all go out and commit murder, knowing that fares will be bleeding his heart out for us for having been ‘failed by our own system’. nope. nope, and a thousand times nope, mr fares. i am for the capital punishment and i say it coolly, without any emotion. the circumstances of death vary, however, and if you kill someone by accident, surely you dont deserve death. but if you murder in cold blood, like mohammad ahmar snuffed the life off a young architect who decided to stay in lebanon, but who had the misfortune of being on the same highway as yourself, well, you sure deserve death. i’m a law-abiding citizen, just like yourself. i have a family and work my ass off to pay for my home, my bills and my normal stable life just like the majority of people here in lebanon. i dont wait for the ‘system’ to bail me out. i’m a grownup. mohammad ahmar is also a grownup. he’s 25, but he decided he doesnt need to register his BMW, nor thinks twice about the consequences of his actions. i do. and most responsible lebanese people also do. most of these responsible lebanese people are POORER than mohammad ahmar and take the bus because they cant afford a BMW. they also cant afford a gun. so please mr fares, re-think your stance and stop defending people who clearly chose a different path. these are bad people. performing capital punishment on them will make the country safer, believe me. and nothing of value would be lost.


  7. only brain-dead or uneducated people will vote for no death penalty in a place like Lebanon. This isn’t Norway you moron. Our brothers and sisters are getting slaughtered daily and you want the pigs that do the terrorism to sit in jail for 24 hours and then get let out? do you know anything about my country? KILL THE SCUM OR THEY WILL KEEP DOING IT. There is NO justice here.


  8. This is NOT an isolated incident. It’s happened before and will continue to happen. This was a brazzen act of savagery. They chased him down and executed him. How else can civility be restored if these gun wielding thugs are not PUBLICLY executed. They should be drawn and quartered. Sick SoBs. I can’t imagine the pain his parents and loved ones are going through. Premeditated murder should result in capital punishment.



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