DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The British editor-at-large of a prominent English-language newspaper in Dubai pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a premeditated murder charge over his wife’s killing, as prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty.

Police allege Gulf News editor Francis Matthew beat his 62-year-old wife Jane to death with a hammer, leaving her body in a pool of blood in their bed before telling detectives that robbers killed her.

The slaying has shocked the United Arab Emirates’ large British expatriate population, of which Matthew and his wife belong.

The 61-year-old Matthew wore white prison-style clothes to a brief hearing in a Dubai courtroom Wednesday. He looked thin and somber while entering his plea.

“Not guilty,” Matthew said.

After the hearing, Matthew’s lawyer Ali al-Shamsi said they are looking to get a minimum sentence for his client.

“There is a mistake in the autopsy report,” al-Shamsi said, without elaborating.

On July 4, Dubai police say they were called to Matthew’s three-bedroom villa in Dubai’s Jumeirah neighborhood. There, they say they found his wife of over 30 years dead and the editor told them robbers broke into the home and killed her.

During a later interrogation, however, police say Matthew told them his wife had grown angry with him because they were in debt and needed to move. Matthew said he got angry when his wife called him “a loser” and told him “you should provide financially,” according to police.

Matthew told police his wife pushed him during the argument. He then got a hammer, followed her into the bedroom and struck her twice in the head, killing her, according to a police report. The next morning, Matthew tried to make it look like the house had been robbed and later went to work like nothing had happened, throwing the hammer in a nearby dumpster, police said.

Gulf News previously has said Matthew served as its editor from 1995-2005 and then became an editor-at-large at the newspaper. He was still with the newspaper at the time of the killing, though a Gulf News article on the court appearance Wednesday referred to him as a former employee.


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MALAK HARB
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