Iraqi English teacher suspected in Taiwan double-murder claims he is in Baghdad with son

Iraqi double-murder suspect calls his Taiwanese wife from Baghdad after son cries for her

Alihammad Jomaah. (Photo from Jomaah's Facebook page)

Alihammad Jomaah. (Photo from Jomaah's Facebook page)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- After an Iraqi man fled Taiwan for Japan following the alleged strangling of his elderly Taiwanese in-laws, his wife told police that she received a video call from him via the social media app LINE in which he showed their 1-year-old son still alive and claimed that he had flown to Baghdad.

The suspect, identified by prosecutors as Alihammad Jomaah, aged 31, had met the boy’s Taiwanese mother, surnamed Hsiao (蕭), during her studies in the United States, and the family later settled in Japan. After allegations of domestic violence, Hsiao brought her son with her to stay with her parents on March 27, reported ETtoday.

The Iraqi man reportedly arrived in Taiwan from Japan, where he works as an assistant professor of English at the International College of Technology, Kanazawa, on April 26, according to ETtoday. He visited his parents-in-law almost every day, leading to heated discussions about the boy’s custody, according to local media.

Photo of Jomaah released by prosecutors on May 1. (CNA photo)

Records showed he left the country with the infant on a flight to Japan at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (April 30) morning. At 8:39 a.m. on Wednesday (May 1), the bodies of Hsiao's parents, both who were in their seventies, were found at their Taipei City home, strangled with a towel, according to the Liberty Times. Hsiao immediately suspected that her husband had committed the crime and alerted the police.

While Hsiao was filing a report with police that day, she suddenly received a video call on the app LINE from her husband at 4 p.m., reported UDN. Jomaah claimed that he had arrived in Baghdad with their son and said the reason he had made the call was because the boy had been crying for his mother, and after showing the child's face briefly, he hung up.

Although the boy appeared unharmed in the video chat, Hsiao is very worried about the safety of her son. The Shilin District Prosecutor's Office has issued a warrant for the arrest of Jomaah on suspicion of committing felony homicide which will be in effect until Oct. 30, 2056.

Jomaah (second from right) with soccer teammates. (Photo from Jomaah's Facebook page)

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) also issued a warrant for Jomaah's arrest and the liaison officer in Japan has informed Japanese police of the relevant information. The CIB's Japanese counterparts have set up a special team to investigate the case, but it is difficult to assess how much assistance it can provide in the future.

The CIB says that as Taiwan and Japan do not have diplomatic relations, there is no mutual legal assistance agreement and the suspect is an Iraqi national. If the suspect has indeed returned to Baghdad from Japan, the lack of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Iraq will make it even more difficult to bring the suspect to justice.