Appeal filed against Saudi palm-chopping verdict

Appeal filed against Saudi palm-chopping verdict
Consul Welfare doctor of Jeddah, Dr Aleem, Abaha Indian Social Forum executive member of Said Moulavi and Jeddah consulate member Faisal visit jail authorities.

Abha: An appeal has been filed in a higher court in Saudi Arabia against the verdict of a local court sentencing a Keralite youth to palm chopping. The appeal was moved with the help of the Indian Social Forum. The youth is in jail over the last six months over a theft case.

The order to chop the right palm of the youth, hailing from Alappuzha, was pronounced by a three-member bench of the criminal court in Khamis Mushait, a city in the southern part of Saudi Arabia.

The case relates to the loss of 1,10,000 riyals from a prominent restaurant having branches at Abha and Khamis Mushait. The money was kept in a locker. An investigation led to the arrest of a Keralite youth who was working in the restaurant for the last six years. The entire missing amount was recovered from the washroom. A trial led to the palm chopping sentence under the Sharia law.

Earlier, another employee of the restaurant – a Kollam native - who had a big debt with the sponsor had left for Kerala in connection with his mother’s treatment. At that time, the youth from Alappuzha had stood surety. When the Kollam native failed to return to Saudi Arabia, the sponsor had recovered the money from the sentenced youth.

The money involved was 24,000 riyals, which came to 3.5 lakh Indian rupees. The Alappuzha youth, who was already in deep financial crisis, had borrowed from many people and sold many items to find the money to pay the sponsor. He said that he could not explain his situation before the court owing to fear and poor command over the local language.

Meanwhile, the youth’s family in Alappuzha is crestfallen over the palm chopping verdict. His mother, as well as friends in Aseer, had approached the leaders of the Indian Social Forum in Abha to somehow get the verdict cancelled. Following which, Social Forum executive member and CCWA member Syed Moulavi visited the Khamis Mushait criminal court and obtained a copy of the verdict, which had allowed moving an appeal before the 17th day of the Ramadan month. Syed Moulavi subsequently consulted legal experts and a Saudi advocate before preparing an appeal.

Meanwhile, he informed the Indian consulate in Jeddah of the developments. Following this, consul welfare doctor in Jeddah Aleem and another official Faizal rushed to Abha and met the sentenced youth in jail along with Syed Moulavi. They also discussed the case with the jail officials.

Soon, the appeal was filed at the chamber of the chief justice of the criminal court in Khamis Mushait. The team from the consulate also called on the assistant governor of Abha and submitted a memorandum.

Meanwhile, the youth’s friends met Dr Aleem. The Jeddah consulate extended all support to the efforts of the youth’s friends and family members in pursuing the appeal.

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