11/26/2007, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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Justice Minister says “the girl from Qatif” provoked her rapists

In a lengthy declaration the official states that the young women was married and therefore is an adulteress, she was in a car with a non-relative male – which is forbidden – and according to those who attacked her she was “indecently dressed”.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) – The young Saudi women condemned to prison and 200 lashes is an adulteress who “provoked the attack” of her rapists because she was “indecently dressed”. That is the conclusion of the Saudi Minister for Justice in an official declaration reported today by the Saudi news agency SPA.

The Minister defends the sentencing and confirms that the national judiciary is based on “the book of God and prophet Muhammad’s teachings”.

Known as “the girl from Qatif”, the nineteen year old Saudi was kidnapped and rapped by a group of men, only to find herself condemned by a court to six months in prison and 90 lashings, because she was in a car with a non-relative male, which is forbidden by law.  The sentence passed last year had condemned the six rapists to one to five years in prison.

Abdul Rahman al-Lahem countered that the aggressors punishment was too lenient for a crime theoretically punishable with the death sentence,  while that of his client too harsh.  In appeal, the rapists sentences were increased: now they must spend between two and nine years in prison.  But the girl also saw her sentence increase, for having tried to influence the court via media pressure.  The same court also  removed her lawyer from the case, and suspended his license.

Faced with outraged reactions in western press, as well as neighbouring Arab nations, the lengthy declaration issued by the Justice Minister aims to explain the reasoning behind the verdict.   It begins with an expression of “regret” for the “false” and “wrong” reports spread by the press, clarifying that the “woman is married” and that it was she who called the man on her mobile phone  “from her husbands house” for a forbidden private meeting.   “She got into his car and both headed to the cornice to a dark area where they remained for a period of time”.  At this area, they were seen by the rest of the defendants referred to in the case, and she the woman was in an “indecent condition”. The girl “knew that being in privately alone in a meeting with an illegal companion is religiously prohibited”. 

She is also being charged with the fact that neither she nor the young man she was with denounced the incident at time, but only three months later, when the young woman’s husband on receiving an e-mail confronted her about the incident and denounced the betrayal.

 

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