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Death penalty sought as UK journalist denies murdering his wife in Dubai

Prosecutors in Dubai are seeking the death penalty for a British journalist accused of murdering his wife.

Francis Matthew, t he editor-at-large of a prominent English-language newspaper, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a premeditated murder charge.

Police allege Matthew, who worked for Gulf News, 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 killing has shocked the United Arab Emirates' large British expatriate population.

The 61-year-old Matthew wore white prison-style clothes to a brief hearing in a Dubai courtroom on Wednesday.

He looked thin and sombre while entering his plea, saying: "Not guilty."

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," Mr al-Shamsi said, without elaborating.

On July 4, Dubai police said 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 tip, 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 on Wednesday referred to him as a former employee.

AP

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