First Published: 2013-01-15

 

Saudi court sentences Egyptian lawyer to five years in prison

 

Court sentences Egyptian rights lawyer whose arrest in April sparked diplomatic row with Cairo to five years in prison, 300 lashes.

 

Middle East Online

At centre of Riyadh-Cairo row

JEDDAH (Saudi Arabia) - A Saudi court on Tuesday sentenced an Egyptian rights lawyer whose arrest on drug trafficking charges in April sparked a diplomatic row with Cairo to five years in prison and 300 lashes.

Ahmed al-Gizawi, arrested in April, was accused of trying to smuggle 21,380 capsules of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, which is banned in Saudi Arabia where drug trafficking carries the death sentence.

Another Egyptian, arrested over the same case, was sentenced to four years in prison and 400 lashes, while their Saudi partner was jailed for two years and will receive 100 lashes.

"These verdicts are lenient" given the defendants' "good morals ... and the lack of judicial precedents," the judge said at the hearing. The verdicts can be appealed within one month.

The prosecution, which alleged that Gizawi had hidden the banned substance in two milk cartons and a cover for the Koran, had demanded the death penalty for the lawyer.

Gizawi had travelled in April to Saudi Arabia with his wife to perform the omra, the minor pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, when he was detained at Jeddah airport, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said at the time.

The Egyptian organisation said that Gizawi was held after he was sentenced in absentia to one year in prison and 20 lashes for criticising the Saudi government.

Gizawi was being targeted for his activism over Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons, it said.

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters had rallied outside Riyadh's embassy in Cairo demanding his release, prompting the kingdom to shut down its mission.

The embassy reopened on May 4 following a fence-mending visit to King Abdullah by a large delegation of prominent Egyptian figures.

 

Angry protesters storm Iraq Green Zone

War continues in Aleppo, with US-Russia agreement

Rouhani allies win second round of Iran parliament elections

Yemen government forces seize Qaeda training camp

Aleppo mourns paediatrician killed in air strike

UN council votes to bring back full Western Sahara mission

Air strike hits clinic in rebel-held Aleppo

US, Russia 'agree freeze' on two Syrian fronts

Libya unity government vows to end jihadist 'scourge'

Turkey demands 5 years jail for UK academic over 'terror propaganda'

UK pair accused of giving money to Brussels, Paris attacks suspect

Turkey says Bursa bomber linked to PKK

UN rights chief calls Syrian crisis 'shameful realpolitik'

Kuwait steps up deportations of expat workers

South Sudan unveils unity government

Iranians vote in second round of parliamentary elections

Palestinians support, Israel opposes French peace initiative

Biden in surprise Iraq visit to support embattled government

MSF condemns strike on Aleppo hospital

Lifeline to millions in Syria 'may be broken' as violence intensifies

Turkish journalists get two years for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Greece making 'incredible effort' to tackle migration issue

Iraq shuts Al-Jazeera bureau for 'instigating violence and sectarianism'

Syria regime readies for major Aleppo offensive

Israel nuclear reactor defects spark secrecy dilemma

Suicide bomber targets Aden police chief

Death toll in Syria's Aleppo rises despite UN truce plea

Italy to introduce migrant fingerprinting at sea

UN envoy plans to hold another round of Syria peace talks

US proposes full restoration of Western Sahara mission

27 Yemeni soldiers dead in key offensive

Global press freedom drops to lowest level in 12 years

Constitutional amendment grants Jordan king more powers

Suicide bomber blows herself up in Turkey northwestern city

Austria adopts one of EU's toughest asylum laws

Netherlands warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to Turkey

Battered Aleppo residents ask: Where is Syria ceasefire?

Libya kidnappers release Serbian worker

Sinai bombing kills three Egypt policemen

UAE considers tough safety code after skyscraper fires

UNESCO says Palmyra retains 'authenticity' despite damage

Khamenei says US 'fomenting Iranophobia'

Russia applauds cooperation with US on Syria

Etihad Airways sees $103 million profit in 2015

Russia asks UN to list Syria rebel group as 'terrorist'