Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Saudi rape victim's husband blames judge for punishment

Saudi rape victim's husband blames judge for punishment -
The husband of a Saudi rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison said his wife is "a crushed human being," but blamed a judge -- not the Saudi judicial system -- for treating her as a criminal.
"From the outset, my wife was dealt with as a guilty person who committed a crime," said her 24-year-old husband. "She was not given any chance to prove her innocence or describe how she was a victim of multiple brutal rapes."
His wife, who he said is "a quiet, simple person who does not bother anyone," is ill and too fragile to speak about the case, he said. As her guardian under Saudi law, he is standing up for her publicly.

The attack, trial and sentencing have taken a heavy toll on his wife's already-poor health, he said.

She suffers from anemia, a blood disorder and asthma, and will have surgery next month to remove her gallbladder, he said.

"Since the attack, she's been suffering from severe depression."

The events ended her pursuit of an education past high school, he said.

"Her situation keeps changing from bad to worse," he said. "You could say she's a crushed human being."

"The court proceedings were like a spectacle at times," he said. "The criminals were allowed in the same room as my wife. They were allowed to make all kinds of offensive gestures and give her dirty and threatening looks."

Of the three judges at the trial, one of them "was mean and from the beginning dealt with my wife as guilty person who had done something wrong," he said.

"Even when he pronounced the sentence, he said to her, 'You were involved in a suspicious relationship, and you deserve 200 lashes for that,' " he said.

The judge dismissed her lawyer, Abdulrahman al-Lahim, after the two clashed in court, he said.

"The judge took things personally and was reacting to our lawyer, who's a known human rights activist," the husband said. "The judge undermined the lawyer, decreased his role and then dismissed him from the case altogether. The judge simply couldn't work with our lawyer."

The woman was originally sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes. But when she appealed, the court more than doubled her sentence.

The husband said the judge was pursuing "a personal vendetta."

"We were shocked when the judgment changed and her sentence was doubled," the husband said. "We were looking for pardon; instead, she got double the whipping and more jail time."
"If this sentence is based on the law, then I would've welcomed it," the husband said. "But it is harsh, and the Saudi society I know and belong to is more sympathetic than that. I do not expect such harshness from Saudis, but rather compassion and support of the victim and her rights."

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