Saudis seek severe punishment over death of Algerian teen

JEDDAH- Saudi prosecutors said Tuesday they will request severe punishment for a man implicated in the death of an Algerian teenager, who apparently jumped from the roof of her Mecca hotel.
"The suspect has been detained pending further investigation and will be charged and tried, with prosecutors asking for severe punishment," an official of the Saudi bureau of investigation and prosecution said.

"It became clear to the investigating authority that the girl's death resulted from jumping from the roof of the hotel in an attempt to escape a hotel employee of Arab nationality who had lured her there," he said.
He said that the suspect would be charged with khulwa, which entails an unrelated man and woman being alone in a private place. This is a crime under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law, according to the statement published by the official SPA news agency.
The 15-year-old girl had been visiting the Islamic holy city for the umrah, or minor pilgrimage earlier this month. Her body was found on the roof of a hotel adjacent to the one in which she was staying.
Local dailies earlier reported that a Saudi court was investigating two Yemenis accused of raping and murdering the girl. However, Tuesday's statement referred to only one "Arab man."
The case sparked an outcry in Algerian after it was initially reported that the girl had been gang-raped and then murdered.
Since then, Saudi investigators have said she was not raped.
On Monday, an Algerian official said the country has asked Saudi authorities to clarify the situation.
"Only the (Saudi) legal authorities are capable of clarifying the facts. We have asked them to do their best ability and (they) have committed themselves in that regard," Halim Benatallah, state secretary for the Algerian expatriate community, told French-language radio Chaine III.

Wednesday, September 29th 2010

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