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Wait for sentencing is worse than death

Arab News — The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily

Sunday 25 October 2009 (07 Dhul Qa`dah 1430) 


RIYADH: People awaiting their fate on death row in the Kingdom have a saying — waiting for death is worse than death itself.

A reporter from a Riyadh newspaper entered a local prison and spoke to a number of killers who are waiting either for their sentence of death by sword to be carried out, or the miracle of a pardon from their victims’ families.

The first prisoner the journalist met was a Saudi man in his cell reading the Qur’an and looking remorseful. He said he had murdered his neighbor.

“I had a nice neighbor living in front of my house. We met everyday on my way to and from work. We used to visit each other all the time. But he had bad children who abused my kids and beat them up all the time. I complained to him many times and he promised to do something about it.”

One day one of his children came home with blood on his face, claiming two of the bullies had beaten him up. That was when the father finally confronted the neighbor with a knife.

“When I complained he simply said that if I did not like it I should move to another neighborhood. I lost my control and stabbed him many times.”

He said ever since that fateful day every day he lives is torture. He said he hopes his kids will eventually forgive him. He is urging people not to carry any weapons with them, especially when attempting to resolve an argument. The convict now spends most of his time in jail reading the Qur’an and learning new skills.

There is another prisoner in the same cell, a 39-year-old Saudi man, who was jailed for shooting his boss dead at work.

He said, “[He] used to harass me at work all the time and make my life difficult. He always insulted me in front of my co-workers. Many times we fought verbally until one day he crossed the line.”

He said he has been regretting his actions since he is away from his children and family. He urged people to control their anger so they would not pay the price he is paying now.

Meanwhile, a young Saudi in his 20s was sitting alone in the corner of one of the cells with sadness in his face. He killed a friend from the same neighborhood after an earlier fight with a gang.

He said, “I ran home and took a gun that I had bought earlier and started searching with my friend for the people we fought with. When we spotted them, I shot and killed one man who lived in our street.”

He was arrested and confessed to the crime. He was sentenced to be executed and is on death row.

There are those who earn a reprieve if the victim’s family forgives them. A Saudi man in his 20s had his death sentence reduced for killing a classmate with a gun after a disagreement.

He said, “Thank God the family of the victim pardoned me. I am now spending five years in jail. I made it but there are many others who did not. All my friends graduated from university and some of them are in the military. I am still in jail because of my ignorance.”



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