Rebecca Dykes worked at the Department of International Development at the UK embassy in Lebanon before she was murdered by her Uber driver. Source: Facebook/ukinlebanon

On Thursday, a Lebanese court overturned the death sentence previously handed down to a former Uber driver over the 2017 attempted rape and murder of Rebecca Dykes, a British diplomat who was residing in Beirut. 

Judge Jamal al-Hajjar of Lebanon's highest court threw out the ruling against Tarek Houshieh, the driver, months after it was first passed back in November. 

The judge provided no reason for the decision and announced a new court session set for March 5. The original sentence also ordered Houshieh to pay an undisclosed sum of money to the charitable foundation set up in his victim's name

Dykes was 30 years old when her life was tragically cut short in the senseless crime. The young woman had been working for the Department of International Development at the UK embassy in Lebanon. Her body was found strangled and dumped at the side of a highway outside of Beirut hours after she was reported missing.

The latest decision is not expected to change since it was highly unlikely for it to be carried out. This is because the Lebanese government has instituted a moratorium (a suspension) on carrying out death sentences. 

The execution law has yet to be officially abolished in the country, though it has not been in practice since 2004. Though the judge didn't divulge any information of what the sentence would be changed to, it's highly possible for it to translate to life in prison along with hard labor.  

Dykes' family and the British Embassy in Lebanon have yet to comment on the latest twist in the case. Back in November, the Embassy welcomed the initial sentence in a statement published via its official social media platforms while reinstating its opposition to the death penalty.

At the time, Dykes' family also commented in a statement to press in which her mother said she awaits the day when her daughter's murderer "seeks forgiveness from all the people he has hurt." 

The case left people in Lebanon shocked in 2017

Dykes' horrific killing stirred controversy over the safety of taxi-hailing app Uber in Lebanon in 2017, as many claimed the driver had a criminal record and questioned how Uber had hired him in the first place. 

Days after the murder, the country's former Interior Minister, Nouhad Machnouk, said the ride-hailing app was "unsafe." 

In response, a spokesman for Uber Lebanon dismissed Machnouk's comments, reassuring the public that the driver who murdered Dykes had "presented a clean criminal record, as stipulated by the company's policy."

In remembrance of her work and unjust death, the young woman's family and friends established the Rebecca Dykes Foundation that "works on improving the lives of refugees and vulnerable communities in Lebanon as well as working on gender equality."

In 2018, the British embassy in the country launched the Rebecca Dykes Chevening Scholarship, which provides Lebanese and Palestinian women living in Lebanon a chance to apply for fully-funded degrees in the UK.