[QODLink]
Middle East

Egyptian lawyer gets jail term in Saudi case

Rights activist whose arrest prompted diplomatic row sentenced to five years in jail and 300 lashes for drug smuggling.
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2013 17:35
Egyptians protested against Gizawi's arrest outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo in April [EPA]

A Saudi court has sentenced an Egyptian rights lawyer - whose arrest on drug-trafficking charges led to a diplomatic row between the two countries -  to five years in prison and 300 lashes.

Ahmed al-Gizawi 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.

The case has caused an outcry in Egypt where rights activists say he was arrested because of his criticism of the Saudi government.

Two other men arrested in the same case, one Egyptian and one Saudi, were also sentenced to prison terms and lashes.

"These verdicts are lenient" given the defendants' "good morals ... and the lack of judicial precedents," the judge said at the hearing on Tuesday.

The judge asked three men if they accepted the ruling and they all replied negatively. The verdicts can be appealed within one month.

The Egyptian consulate in Jeddah said it was appealing the verdict.

Death penalty sought

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

Gizawi had travelled in April to Saudi Arabia with his wife for a pilgrimage when he was detained at Jeddah airport, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said at the time.

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

The group said Gizawi had been critical of the treatment of Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons.

A partner at Gizawi's law firm, Mohammed Nabil, said the case was politically motivated.

"There's absolutely no justice in this case. We're not asking for an exception. If he's guilty, then he should be convicted, but he's not," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters rallied outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo in April demanding his release, prompting the kingdom to shut down its mission.

The embassy reopened on May 4 following a visit by a large delegation of prominent Egyptian figures to Riyadh and a meeting with King Abdullah.

352

Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
Cyprus is a tax haven and has long attracted wealthy Russians, but it could become a European energy hub.
join our mailing list