Thursday, November 29, 2007

Saudi religious police cleared of fatal beating

from AFP (France)

The court in Riyadh "acquitted the two members of the Commission (for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) of the charge of being directly responsible for the death of Suleiman al-Huraisi, for lack of sufficient evidence," the commission's lawyer Yussef al-Nuqaidan told AFP. Religious police, commonly known as Muttawa, enforce a strict Islamic moral code in Saudi Arabia. They stormed the home of the 28-year-old man in the capital after they suspected him of distributing alcohol, which is banned in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom. Nuqaidan said the court cleared the two defendants because "the testimonies of the witnesses brought by the plaintiff, who is the dead man's brother, are not credible." ... The lawyer said the court also dismissed a forensic report stating that the victim was badly beaten, because "while no one denies that beating was the cause of death, the question is: who beat who?" During the raid, "the (dead) man and many members of his family, who were carrying big knives and sharp instruments, resisted the Commission members, and things got confused." Hence, it is not possible to state categorically that Huraisi's beating by the religious police, "which was aimed at controlling him," was the cause of death, Nuqaidan said.

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