The C-Men on Trial

The Arab News reported in an article called Al-Huraisi Murder Trial Begins at Riyadh High Court concerning the start of the trial of two members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. These people have been charged with the murder of Salman Al-Huraisi during a raid by the muttawa looking for alcohol. They raided the house that al-Huraisi and his family lived in. The raid was in May this year and this is one of three trials concerning that raid, this one being tried at the Higher Court in Riyadh. The trial started last Tuesday.

Three judges preside over the trial and it began three and a half hours late as the judges were late. The trial is closed to public and press view and only the plaintiffs’ attorney, the two suspects and their attorney were allowed in. The plaintiffs’ are represented by Yahya Al-Huraisi, who is not related. The defendants are being defended by, apparently, a private lawyer, one engaged by them and not related to the government or the Commission.

Yahya Al-Huraisi started the trial by reading the charge sheet and noting that in Islam, a human life is valued and it is forbidden to kill an innocent person. Al-Huraisi told the court that

the two commission members had broken the law during the raid by not only beating Salman to death, but by also forcefully entering the house and arresting female members for suspicion, without the presence of women officers or female representatives.

“The authorities have held these two men responsible for his (Salman’s) death and according to the private rights of the family, we have made it clear to the three judges that we want both commission members to be executed,” the attorney told Arab News after the hearing.

The charge sheet had a copy of the autopsy report – which has been kept from public view and apparently had been difficult to obtain. The autopsy revealed that Salman died as a result of constant beating to his head and body. The next scheduled hearing is set for November 6 and the defendants were remanded in custody.

A statement from the Governorate of Riyadh mentioned that

the trial was just one of three cases currently in session regarding the death of Salman Al-Huraisi. There is another case about the “abuse of authority” by the commission currently being heard in the Court of Grievances in Riyadh. Commission officers who took part in the raid will be held accountable for violations that allegedly took place during the raid.

In a lower court in Riyadh, three relatives of the deceased are being tried in connection to possession of narcotics and alcohol that was found in the house during the raid.

The Commission members who made the raid originally numbered around 18 people and they “swooped down from the roof into the house commando-style”, breaking down doors and searching for alcohol. Perhaps one of the training courses given to the C-Men in future could be titled “Astute Use of The Doorknob”.

Salman and members of his family (both male and female) were arrested and several bottles of liquor and packets of narcotics were found. People were arrested, even when living in other apartments in the building (many Saudi homes are like small compounds, with a high fence and several apartments within the fenced area – these apartments being used by other family members).

Salman was beaten until he stopped moving or breathing at the Commission Centre and was pronounced dead several hours later. The autopsy report apparently mentions that a heavy blow to his head was the cause of death. The Arab News noted:

It said part of his brain came out and one of the eyes popped out as a result of the blow.

I will keep updating this as this is perhaps the most sensational trial to make the newspapers in Saudi Arabia, certainly in the time I have been in this country. It certainly indicates to that the Saudi government has a lot to do to bring the buffoons of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice back into line with the laws they are supposed to uphold and respect.

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