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Judicial CP - October 2008

Corpun file 20696

Arab Times, Kuwait, 29 October 2008

'Egypt doctor's Saudi lashing worse than death'

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CAIRO, Oct 29, (AFP): Egypt's doctors' union on Wednesday slammed as "worse than death" a punishment of 1,500 lashes handed down by a Saudi court to an Egyptian doctor for allegedly turning a Saudi princess into a drug addict. Doctor Rauf Amin, 53, is being whipped at the rate of 10-15 lashes a week during a 15-year jail term, said Hamdi al-Sayyad, director of the Doctors Syndicate. He was charged with giving the woman morphine to ease her pain following a riding accident, which allegedly turned her into an addict.

Sayyed described Amin's trial as unfair and his sentence — doubled on appeal from 750 lashes and seven years prison — as torture. "We condemn this verdict in the strongest terms and we are making contact with officials in Cairo and Saudi Arabia, as well as (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak for them to intervene," Sayyed told AFP.

"He did not have a fair trial; there was not even any adequate medical expert opinion ... This judgement is more about torture than justice and does not correspond with any kind of law, human rights or even sharia (Islamic law). "It would have been better to have sentenced him to death than to torture him this way. One thousand five hundred lashings and 15 years in prison is too harsh even for a murderer." "I think he has already had 15 lashes and he will continue being whipped every week for 15 years."

Whipping is a standard punishment in the conservative kingdom, where it is usual for the floggings to be spaced out in time to prevent the prisoner dying from the lacerations.

Rights group Amnesty International says it has long-standing concerns with the Saudi judicial system, the independence of its trials and the secrecy that surrounds them.

Amnesty is concerned about "the fact that Saudi judges are not seen to be completely independent, and are under the influence of many officials," spokeswoman Nicole Choueiry told AFP on Wednesday.

"There are probably many sentences of flogging like this that are never heard about," she said.

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