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Judicial CP - February 2001

logo BBC News Online, London, 3 February 2001

Middle East

Flogging for mobile phone passenger

A Saudi court has sentenced an army officer to 70 lashes for using his mobile phone on a domestic flight, despite warnings from the crew.

It is reported to be the second such conviction since November.

The court said the man, a captain in the army, had put passengers and himself at risk by using the phone, which is banned under civil aviation laws.

The incident took place as the plane taxied for take-off from Riyadh.

Take-off was delayed by half an hour as the man was taken off the plane by airport security staff.


In November, a Saudi who answered his mobile on a Tabuk-Riyadh flight was reported to have been sentenced to 20 lashes.

Civil aviation laws in many countries prohibit the use of electronic communications during flights.

Corporal punishment is used for a number of offences under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have long criticised Saudi Arabia for running what they believe is a harsh system of justice.

A recent Amnesty report accused the country of having an appalling human rights record, and called on the international community to intervene.

Saudi Arabia rejects allegations of abuse.

masthead Daily Telegraph, London, 6 February 2001

Illicit drinking parties are a way of life for the expats

By A J McIlroy

ARRESTS for violations of the country's strict alcohol laws have been commonplace in Saudi Arabia but not among its 26,000 British and 40,000 American expatriates.

The Saudi authorities are well aware of their dependency on Western skills and have turned a blind eye to the illicit drinking parties that have become "a way of life" in the expatriate communities. The Muttawa, the Saudi religious police, have tolerated the moderate and discreet consumption of alcohol inside the workers' compounds.

Companies follow Foreign Office guidance by informing expatriate workers of the strict alcohol laws, but in many cases the new arrivals are also introduced to social clubs in company compounds where alcohol is readily available. So when the Muttawa arrested seven Britons, while investigating alleged illicit "trafficking" in alcohol, the reaction among expatriates was shock and disbelief before they poured away their stocks of alcohol.

A diplomatic source has estimated that bootleggers count on the expatriate communities for 30 per cent of their trade, while the majority of their customers are native Saudis flouting their own laws. John Kelly, from Weymouth, Dorset, was the last Briton to be publicly flogged in Saudi Arabia. He was given 250 lashes in 1985 for breaking the alcohol laws.

Since then it has been the practice to commute the sentence on Western expatriates to imprisonment followed by deportation. Patrick Foster, 42, of Braintree, Essex, was sentenced to 70 lashes in 1995. The sentence was not carried out but he spent 10 months in prison "fearing daily for his life".

In 1996 Russell Parker, from Evesham, Worcestershire, spent more than a year in a Saudi prison under threat of 450 lashes.

Sunday Mirror, London, 11 February 2001

I know what it's like for Scots in their prison hell

By Frank Gilfeather

FORMER Saudi convict John Miller's heart last night went out to the two Scottish men possibly facing the death penalty in a Saudi jail.

For 21 years ago John, 59, was flogged 30 times in a prison yard in the Middle East.

The grandfather from Dundee still has a vivid memory of his time in prison in Jeddah and the day he was lashed with a cane.

Fellow Scots Alexander Mitchell and William Sampson await their fate after claims they took part in a bombing in Riyadh which killed British expat Christopher Rodway late last year.

Opening his heart for the first time John told how he was jailed for four months and flogged when he became one in a long line of foreigners convicted of alcohol-related offences.

His sentence came to an end after a visit by Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.

John said last night: "The flogging was administered by a big, powerful sergeant who looked as if he enjoyed it."

Arab News, Jeddah/Riyadh/Dhahran, 28 February 2001

Parent, student whipped for assaulting teacher

By Saud Al-Towaim and Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi

JEDDAH, 28 February - The guardian of a school student and his son were whipped publicly in a city school square here on Sunday. This is the first time an educational institution under the Ministry of Education punished a parent and his son in this manner.

The corporal punishment was meted out following Makkah Governor Prince Abdul Majeed's order after a criminal act by the two was established beyond doubt. The unnamed father and his 16-year-old son attacked Nasir Muhammad Al-Ghamdi, a teacher at the Zaid ibn Al-Khattab Primary School in Safa district in Jeddah, last Saturday while he was teaching Islamic lessons in second grade.

Al-Ghamdi could not defend himself in the surprise attack and sustained several injuries including a broken bone. Hearing the cries for help from students in the class, the headmaster and other teachers came to the rescue of Al-Ghamdi and freed him from the clutches of the fuming father and son. Both were handed to the police immediately, said Suleiman Al-Zayedi, director general of education in the Makkah region.

The motive behind the attack is not known and the matter is still under investigation, said Al-Zayedi. The duo allegedly admitted to the other staff members in the school that they were mistaken in attacking Al-Ghamdi.

Al-Zayedi also pointed out that no sons of the irate parent studied in his victim's class. However, Al-Ghamdi suspects that the man might have been prompted by his request to the students to bring a copy of their family register, as he was the teacher in charge of updating the students' records in the school.

Both offenders were given 60 lashes in front of the students and staff in compliance with the orders of the governor after both admitted to their excesses on two counts -- violating the sanctity of the school premises and physical assault on a teacher.

Al-Zayedi added that the education authorities planned to appoint an attorney to take up the complaint by the teacher in the court. The director of education ruled out any physical threats to teachers from guardians. Cases of attacks on teachers in school campuses were unheard of in the region though frustrated students damaged cars belonging to teachers during the exams.

Copyright 2001 ArabNews All Rights Reserved.

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Colin Farrell 2001, 2002
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