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31 Saudi death row prisoners pardoned in 8 months

Most former prisoners released after paying blood money

Gulf News

Manama: A Saudi daily on Thursday said that 31 prisoners had been spared the capital punishment in the country in the last eight months after they were pardoned by the victims’ families.

The former prisoners were released after their relatives or tribes paid diya (blood money) or fulfilled demands by the victims’ families, such as moving away from the area, local Arabic daily Al Sharq said.

In some cases, the executions were halted after the prisoners were simply granted pardon by the families. Under the law, a killer can avoid the death sentence if he or she is pardoned by the victim’s relatives. In a diya system, the victim’s heirs or relatives reach an agreement with the killer or his family for financial compensation.

“Most pardon cases were related to paying diya,” a source told the daily. “However, in a few cases, it was just the families pardoning the culprit.” Abdul Aziz Al Zamel, a lawyer, said that the pardon had to be documented in a court of law.

“Three judges check the information and the form of the granted pardon before they allow the procedures to go ahead,” he said. “They also check whether the families pardoning the prisoners had any special conditions or requirements.”

According to the report, the Red Sea city of Jeddah recorded seven pardon cases, the highest in the kingdom, followed by Dammam, the largest city in the Eastern Province with six cases. The capital Riyadh was third with five pardons granted by families.