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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on the Saudi rape case

I mentioned the case in Saudi Arabia of a woman who met a male friend when both were abducted and repeatedly raped by a gang of Saudi men, and the victims ended up getting sentenced to prison and 90 lashes.

And when her lawyer tried to appeal, the Saudi justices doubled the victims' sentences to 200 lashes and more prison time.

Well, the Saudi Ministry of Justice is backing the judges' ruling:
The Ministry of Justice made its first public statement regarding the second verdict in the so-called “Qatif Girl” rape trial, justifying the decision to punish the victims with lashes and jail time on the basis of “some proved charges.”

The statement, which was released through the official Saudi Press Agency, said the ministry “welcomes objective criticism that benefits the general good, away from emotional responses.”

Last week “Qatif Girl”, whose name has not been released to protect her identity, and a male companion saw their sentences increased from 90 lashes to 200 lashes and six months in jail on orders by the Higher Court of Justice.

The two were found guilty of being in a state of khalwa, when an unrelated man and woman are found together, prior to their abduction and rape. The sentences of the seven men found guilty of abducting and repeatedly raping the young woman and her male companion were also increased to between two and nine years each...

The ministry also said yesterday in its statement that anyone has a right to appeal verdicts, but also warned of “stirring up agitation through the media that may not be objective and cannot grant anyone any right as much as it can negatively affect the other parties involved in the case.”

The ministry statement used the term “the woman and her male friend” and “the woman and her companion” without referring to either of them as rape victims.

The Qatif General Court also revoked Al-Lahem’s license to practice law for “disobeying rules and regulations” at a hearing during Ramadan, according to yesterday’s statement from the ministry.

The statement didn’t elaborate on the nature of the violations the lawyer allegedly committed in the courtroom.

Al-Lahem told Arab News on Sunday that the incident was sparked when he objected to the presence of the rapists in the courtroom, saying that under Saudi law she did not need to be present and in the same room with her attackers.
Sounds like just the kind of country the US should be selling weapons to.