Basem Salameh did not have the slightest idea of the trouble he was inviting when he gave a light pinch on the bottom of his sleeping buddy. He was brutally beaten to death by his "schizophrenic" friend and some of his accomplices at his Granville flat in Australia in August 2013.
Nearly four years after the incident, an Australian court on Tuesday (16 May) sentenced Daniel Azar and his accomplice Ahmed Kaddour for the grisly crime – the former got at least four years in jail and the latter at least 15 years.
The duo had reportedly stabbed Salameh with a pole, pieces of furniture and a screwdriver, leaving him with severe head injuries and a ruptured eye. Azar, who thought the pinching act was a homosexual advance, was also seen holding a hacksaw to Salameh's neck during the killing, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Salameh's autopsy had also revealed an unspent bullet in his throat. His body was discovered by neighbours almost eight hours after the killing. The body was found under a pile of laundry in the house.
Azar, 22, who was later diagnosed with a schizophrenic illness, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and blamed his mental condition for the crime. Kaddour, 23, was found guilty of the murder following a jury trial in 2016.
Acting Justice Mathews of a New South Wales Court, who gave the verdict, said Azar's condition went some way in explaining his "overreaction" to the bottom pinch, but it does not justify the killing.
"It is impossible to imagine the horrific trauma that Mr Salameh must have endured in those last minutes of his life – both physically and mentally," Mathews said.
"He was helpless and in his own home when he was subjected to brutal attacks from two people whom he had always considered to be his friends.
"Nor can it be said that there was any provocation offered by Salameh. The pinching of Azar's bottom earlier in the evening by no means qualifies as any form of justification or excuse for what happened later."