I noted before that I would keep track of what happened with the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice members on trial for the brutal killing of a suspect under questioning by the membes of the Commission. To recap, the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (C-Men or as I prefer to think of them, the Ministry of Lasciviousness and Licentiousness), raided a house compound in Riyadh commando style in May this year. They broke into the house and arrested many people in there for the possession and sale of alcohol and narcotics.
Later, at the C-Men’s headquarters, one of the prisoners, Salman Al-Huraisi was found dead after having been beaten by a metal rod, blows to his head being so severe that they split the head open and caused one of his eyes to “pop out” of its socket. A police investigation, including the questioning of members of the Commission, found that two members had been responsible for the death of Al-Huraisi.
This went to court and in the lead-up process, the Commission tried noting that the members involved were not, in fact, members of the Commission, then they tried to pay “blood money” in advance to the family to drop the charges and even went so far as to say to the family that the Commission would drop the alcohol and narcotics charges if the family would drop the murder charges.
You can read the previous report to this in the entry here of Al-Huraisi Killing Case: Commission Members Deny All Charges which links back to earlier entries. Remember that there are witnesses to the beating, the beating occurred in the Commission’s offices and that the police reports laid the blame on these members. If that was not enough, investigation of the matter was also made by the General Investigation and Prosecution Authority (GIPA – sort of the equivalent of the Crown Prosecutor) and the Governate of Riyadh, both these bodies also finding the men responsible for the death of Salman Al-Huraisi. The men pleaded not guilty. Read on for the next instalment of this.
In yesterday’s Arab News under the title of Court Clears Two Commission Members of Wrongdoing, the paper noted that the judges in this case dismissed the charges on Wednesday in the Riyadh High Court.The C-Men’s lawyer, Yussel Al-Nuaidan said
[the court in Riyadh] acquitted the two members of the Commission of the charge of being directly responsible for the death of Al-Huraisi, for lack of sufficient evidence.
The two C-Men on trial had originally confessed to the judges that they had taken part in the raid and that they beat the suspect causing his death. Then, in a later session they retracted the earlier confession, but the retraction was done under oath. The judges’ ruling was made after listenening to the testimony of eyewitnesses. These eyewitnesses were also C-Men and they confirmed that the two defendants had entered Al-Huraisi’s house with a metal object. These eyewitnesses confirmed the previously confessed series of events.
The judges’ found that trial could not continue as there was not sufficient evidence provided by the attorney representing the deceased’s family. They also noted that the testimonies from eyewitnesses were “not sufficient.”
The Arab News published a section from the ruling, noting:
[The judges mentioned] five reasons in which the three judges have stated to dismiss the case:
- That the testimonies of the eyewitnesses cannot be accepted because they said Commission members cannot testify against their colleagues;
- That the two defendants later retracted their confessions;
- That the testimonies of other Commission members in the case cannot be presented as evidence by the attorney representing the family;
- That family members have testified that the two defendants had beaten the deceased; and
- That the testimonies from the two defendants in their earlier confession did not mention that they had beaten the deceased in his head, which is considered the fatal blow which caused the death.
The case will now be transferred to the Cassation Court where judges will either uphold the Riyadh Court’s decision or ask for a re-trial. According to the attorney representing the family of the deceased, Yahya Al-Huraisi, the two Commission members had asked the judges to be released.
Whilst this case has not received the same international attention as the Girl from Qatif case, it is a further example of the lack of any effective system of justice in the Kingdom.
Of course, justice the word is a word coming from Middle English through the Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus and is therefore an old Roman concept not an Arabic one.