LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KABC) -- A mother who survived a car crash that killed her two sons testified Friday against her estranged husband, Ali Elmezayen, who is accused of insurance fraud.
Rehab Diab testified about the moments before Elmezayen drove off a dock in the Los Angeles harbor with their two sons who have autism strapped in the back seat. The boys, 13-year-old Elhassan and 8-year-old Abdelkrim, drowned. Elmezayen had taken out insurance policies on the boys more than two years earlier.
Diab testified that on April 9, 2015, Elmezayen wanted to watch the boats, but instead of parking, he accelerated toward the sea. She said it was especially terrifying because she couldn't swim.
Under questioning by the federal prosecutor, Diab said that Elmezayen didn't turn, brake or make any effort to rescue their sons. Speaking through an interpreter, the Egyptian immigrant said that it was a fisherman who threw her a life preserver and that Elmezayen, who swam to a ladder, never let go of it to help her.
The defense position is that Diab was in on the alleged scheme. Multiple insurance documents were presented with Diab's signature. She said she was aware of policies that Elmezayen took out for him and her, but didn't learn that he had collected on their sons' deaths until a lawyer questioned her two years after the drownings.
Diab testified that Elmezayen battered, berated and threatened her saying, "don't look at me or else I will take your eyes out from you," and that "if you don't shut up, I will cut out your tongue."
Their eldest son, Elhussein, had been sent to camp at the time of the drownings. He testified that his dad was egotistical and once threatened his mother with a butcher knife several inches from her face. He recalled his father beating, punching, kicking and slapping his mother.
The family was in financial hardship before the drownings. Elmezayen had filed for bankruptcy. Diab, who was undocumented, wanted a lawyer to help her obtain legal status. She testified that Elmezayen forced her to sign a marriage certificate with a homeless man to obtain legal status.
The defense is set to present their case.
Mother testifies against father in alleged scheme to kill sons by driving into Port of LA