Manama: A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a father who had tortured his five-year-old daughter to death to eight years in prison and 800 lashes.
The court in Hawtat Bani Tamim, 160 kilometers south of the capital Riyadh also ruled that Fayhan Al Gamdi, a self-proclaimed preacher, pay Luma’s mother, his ex-wife, SR 1 million in blood money.
Under Saudi laws, the mother had the right to ask for blood money instead of the death penalty for the defendant.
Al Ghamdi’s second wife was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 150 lashes for not reporting the torture inflicted on Luma, Saudi daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday, quoting a Human Rights Commission activist.
The lawyers of Luma’s father and stepmother have appealed the verdict.
Luma’s case shocked Saudi Arabia to the core last year when details emerged how her father tortured as she visited him and his new wife. Reports said that the father used wires and an iron rod to punish his daughter and that he had expressed doubts about her virginity.
She died after four months in coma and was not buried for another four months pending the investigation and the autopsy procedures.
Luma’s divorced mother said that her daughter lived with her under a court order and was allowed to visit her father even though he reportedly did not seem to care about her.
She added that she had agreed to marry her ex-husband as he appeared to be a gentle and reformed man after spending years of his life as a drug addict. However, following the marriage, he turned into a violent man who often beat her, forcing her to file for divorce.
A court in the Eastern Province city of Dammam ruled in her favour and she was told by the judge that she could have the custody of the daughter until the girl reached the age of seven.
The mother said that, following the divorce, her former husband had met their daughter only on four occasions.
“The last visit was when I took her to see him in Riyadh where he had moved after he lapsed into a long silence even though Luma was keen on seeing him,” she said. “The agreement was that she spends only two weeks with him, but after 14 days he refused to let her come back home to me. The last words I heard from her were ‘I love you, mum and I always pray for you.’ Her father often said that he would make her forget all about me,” the mother told Saudi media.
In December 2011, Luma’s mother was informed by the police in Riyadh that her daughter was in hospital where she was being treated for severe burns and bruises, and that her condition was critical.
“It was such a terrible shock to see her frail body in this tragic state. She remained paralysed for several months before she passed away,” she said.
The mother initially insisted on the death penalty for her former husband and his wife for torturing her daughter, but she later changed her mind, saying that she would rather take blood money to help her with the increasingly frustrating financial challenges.
“I have three other children [from a previous marriage] and a house to look after and I will need the money,” she said in June. “There is no interest for the family in the execution of my former husband.”
Amid the public furore about the case and claims that Al Ghamdi would not be given the punishment he deserved because of his religious status, the Islamic Affairs Ministry in November said he was not on its official list of Islamic preachers.
“He is not registered with the ministry and we have no relationship with him in any way,” Shaikh Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh, the minister, said. “He had committed a heinous crime and he cannot be a preacher. No-one can ever justify his crime.”