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Judicial CP - May 2008

Corpun file 20244

Gulf Daily News, Bahrain, 13 May 2008

Bahraini on Death Row 'was framed'

By Noor Toorani


RELATIVES of a Bahraini man initially sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for smuggling drugs claim he was framed.

Maki Ali Abbas, aged 46, now faces a 15-year jail sentence, 1,500 lashes and a fine of 100,000 Riyals (BD10,000) after winning an appeal against the original conviction.

He was initially convicted of smuggling by a Saudi court after he was caught entering the country with hashish across the King Fahad Causeway, Bahraini Embassy first secretary Moosa Al Noaimi told the GDN.

However, his lawyers appealed against the decision since he was caught with 288 grams, which they said was not enough to prove he planned to sell it.

"Last week I personally went to the prison to follow up on his case, which was taken to the Appeal Court in Saudi, and they reduced his execution sentence to 15 years in jail and 1,500 lashes, along with a fine of 100,000 riyals (BD10,000)," said Mr Al Noaimi. "The court reduced the sentence after reviewing the evidence and decided the amount of drugs he had with him could not possibly be used for selling."

However, the family of Mr Abbas was adamant yesterday that he had been framed. His son Hassan said he had an argument with a neighbour just a few days before he left for Saudi Arabia last October. "The man threatened to hurt him and our family just five days before he left for Saudi," the 19-year-old claimed.

He said his father would travel to Saudi Arabia to buy vegetables and then sell them in Bahrain. However, he was arrested when immigration officers searched his car and discovered the hashish. "The other man has a previous record of smuggling alcohol into the country and dealing in drugs, but my father never touched these things," said Hassan. "He is innocent and does not deserve to be in jail for something he didn't do.

"He was arrested last October and has been in a prison in Khobar for the past seven months waiting for his sentence to be carried out. Three weeks ago they told him he would be executed. I sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry when I found out about the execution and they told me they would forward it to the Bahraini Embassy in Riyadh, but I'm not sure if they did so. I sent another letter to the embassy. They have been helpful over the past few days and I really hope this continues."

Officials at the embassy have advised the family to produce a copy of a police report filed by Mr Abbas against his neighbour for allegedly threatening him.

Hassan said his father might still be under the impression that he is facing the death sentence. "When he called us on Sunday he was begging me to try to get him out of there because the guards keep telling him he's going to be executed," he said. "This is the first time he has shown any sign of weakness ever since he was arrested."

© Gulf Daily News 

Corpun file 20303


Arab News, Riyadh/Dhahran/Jeddah, 25 May 2008

Government Must Codify Taaziri Punishment Rules

By Nourah Abdul Al-Khereiji

The discriminatory taaziri (deterrent) punishments — that are not defined by Shariah — include lashes and imprisonment. Our courts issue such punishments in many circumstances. Judges are given the authority to order various punishments such as flogging or imprisonment or rebukes or fines or deportation — in accordance with discretion and the interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah. This is in order to discourage people from committing sins and crimes for which the Shariah ordains no specific punishment.

If the punishments for traffic violations circulated through the Internet — based on the new traffic law, which came into effect at the beginning of this Hijrah year — include three types of taazir punishments for each violation: 20 lashes, fines and imprisonment. It is strange that the traffic department has exceeded the limits set by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for lashes. "Nobody should be given more than 10 lashes except in hudood punishments ordained by Allah," the Prophet said.

One can easily observe that there are clear excesses in taaziri punishment, especially when it comes to lashes and excesses are possible in the absence of restrictions or criteria or a codified punishment system. Often taaziri punishments are passed depending on the mood and temperament of the judge in charge and his personal views on matters that contradict Shariah teachings. Thus, different punishments are given for the same offense.

Allah the Almighty is more benevolent to us than our fellow humans. Despite the magnitude of a sin such as prostitution, Allah ordained only 100 lashes for both the man and woman involved in the sin. Lashes given in taaziri punishment often exceed the ones ordained by Shariah or hudood punishment. For example, a judge in a Makkah court recently sentenced a university professor, who is well known for his good conduct, to 180 lashes and eight months in jail for sitting with a woman in a public café. The verdict comes at a time when Islamic scholars argued that taaziri punishment should be dropped for such respectable persons on the basis of a Hadith of the Prophet who said: "Forgive minor sins of respected people except the ones that come under hudood." (Abu Dawood). The Prophet here refers to righteous and pious people who may commit mistakes but who seek Allah's pardon for their faults. But if they repeat the same mistake, they will also be given a deterrent punishment.

But taaziri punishment in our country often goes beyond what is reasonable. A young man, for example, was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months jail for just having a telephone conversation with a woman (in which he proposed to marry her and her family refused) and seeing part of her body on a mobile phone. In another case, a youth was sentenced to six months in prison and 350 lashes for destroying a traffic ticket and assaulting a police officer.

Let us now mention some cases in the education sector. School authorities and teachers have been instructed that students should not be beaten and the Ministry of Education has issued punishments for those who violate this rule. I fully agree with this system. What I cannot agree is that while this system is in place, teachers are being lashed in front of their students. We have to thank the appeal court for ordering the retrial of a teacher or changing the punishment. A woman teacher was, however, given 100 lashes in front of a British girl student and her parents in the school courtyard for beating the student with her shoes after the student had treated her with disrespect. But the student in the case was not given any punishment.

In some cases we have seen courts ordering up to 7,000 lashes to be implemented in phases and the man/woman is held in jail until all the lashes have been given. A young woman accused of prostitution, for example, was sentenced to four years in prison and 2,000 lashes. A 16-year-old teenager was sentenced to 15 years in jail and 2,000 lashes for attempting to rape a woman. There was another court verdict of four years in jail and 400 lashes for a person who raped a little girl. Here one can see different punishments are given to people who have committed similar crimes. Many people were not happy with the punishment given to those who raped the Qatif girl and those involved in the sexual harassment in the Nahda tunnel in Riyadh as they thought such criminals deserved capital punishment for causing chaos and corruption in the land.

In the light of these, I strongly believe that it is high time the government codify the taaziri punishment regulations. It is essential, especially in the case of lashes. I am afraid with the introduction of lashes by the traffic police, everybody in this country, including expatriates, will become a victim of lashes. Enough is enough for this humiliating punishment of lashes. I am afraid that if we continue this sort of punishment for long we have to open more counseling centers in order to help people recover from depression and remove their feelings of disgrace.

Copyright: Arab News © 2003 All rights reserved.

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