Thursday, November 15, 2007

Saudi lawyer reports harassment after defending rape victim

from AFP (France)

Abdurrahman al-Lahem (Abdul Rahman al-Lahem), A Saudi lawyer and human rights activist, said that the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif banned him from handling the rape case and confiscated his lawyer's licence because he challenged the verdict. Last year, the court in Al-Qatif sentenced six Saudi men accused of raping the woman to between one and five years in jail while sentencing the woman to 90 lashes. Lahem appealed the ruling at the Higher Judicial Council, which ordered a retrial. The court toughened the sentences against the six men to between two and nine years in prison in a new ruling on Wednesday. But it also sentenced the woman to six months in jail and 200 lashes ... The case has angered members of Saudi Arabia's minority Shiite community, to which the woman belongs. The accused are Sunnis, the dominant community in the Gulf country which applies a rigorous Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism. He said the move might be due to his criticism of some judicial institutions, and "contradicts King Abdullah's quest to introduce reform, especially in the justice system."

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