DUBAI, April 1 (Reuters) - A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a Lebanese man and his wife to death after they were convicted in absentia of killing a Filipina maid in a case that triggered a crisis between the Philippines and the Gulf Arab state, Kuwaiti newspapers reported on Sunday.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last month ordered workers in Kuwait to return home over alleged abuse following the discovery of the female worker's body in the freezer of an abandoned home that belonged to a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife.
Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai said the pair were convicted in absentia of premeditated murder. Al-Qabas, another newspaper, said the criminal court issued its verdict at its first hearing, convicting the pair of "killing the Filipina worker and putting her body in the freezer".
It said the murder was discovered more than a year after it had taken place and that the couple had been sentenced in absentia. Both newspapers reported the death sentence.
The sentences are subject to appeal under Kuwaiti law.
Lebanese media reported last month that the worker's former employer was in custody in connection with the case and that authorities were considering a Kuwaiti request to extradite him.
AFP news agency, quoting a judicial source, reported in February that the woman was being held in her native Syria.
Kuwait and the Philippines, eager to end the crisis, signed an agreement last month regulating some working conditions for domestic workers in the Gulf Arab State.
There are more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, the Philippine Foreign Ministry estimates, with most working as domestic helpers. There are also large numbers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi Editing by Alison Williams)
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