Manama: Police in the western Saudi city of Makkah have arrested a policeman for filming secretly the public execution of a Burmese woman.
The policeman was among the staff assigned with the preparations for the execution in Makkah, Okaz news site reported on Saturday.
The suspect, who was not named, will face charges in a military court as well as in a Shariah court for his act, the daily added.
He will be referred to the courts following the completion of the investigation by the public prosecution.
On Wednesday, a human rights group called for taking action against whoever filmed the execution of the woman and posted on social networks, arguing that it was a breach of privacy rights.
Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, was put to death in Makkah after she was found guilty of torturing her seven-year-old stepdaughter to death.
The interior ministry said that the murderer killed the daughter of her husband, Kalthoum Bin Abdul Rahman Bin Ghulam Qadir, by beating her severely and inserting the stick of a broom into her genitals “without any mercy or compassion.”
The death sentence was ratified by a royal order and the killer was executed on Monday. The execution was filmed through a mobile phone and the clip was posted on social networks.
However, the Makkah-based National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) said that whoever filmed the execution should be identified and punished.
NSHR Member Mohammad Al Sahli said that the authorities should have taken all precautionary measures, including the use of undercover agents, to prevent the filming of the execution.
The authorities should now track the video clip all the way to its source, identify those who filmed it and punish them, he said, local daily Makkah reported on Thursday.
Al Sahli said that the law allows the woman’s family to take legal action against anyone who caused them distress or harm through the filming or the dissemination of the execution video clip.
“Those who disseminated the clip are not less guilty than those who filmed the execution,” he said.
However, online users rejected Al Salhi’s call, insisting that the purpose of the public execution was to deter potential criminals and that the video was within the same spirit.
“The wide dissemination of the clip is a positive thing,” Abu Tariq, a blogger, said. “Any person tempted to torture children will think twice after watching the execution video. Domestic violence is unfortunately turning into a phenomenon,” he said.
Another blogger, writing under the moniker of Mifaq, resisted the move by the rights group.
“There is no reason to take any action against those who filmed or spread the clip,” he said. “The purpose of the public execution is to deter people and using videos will help such a message reach the largest number of people,” he said.
Al Basil said that the human rights group should think of how much the seven-year-old girl had suffered before she died.
“It was a most heinous crime and the authorities should make sure it is not repeated,” the blogger said. “There are so many other innocent girls like Kalthoum, and there is a need to help protect them. This video could be one of the best deterrents,” he said.
The few bloggers who were against the filming did not however express support for the call by the Saudi rights group to take action against those who filmed or disseminated it.
“It was a very emotionally disturbing clip,” Asmar said. “I wish it had not been uploaded on social networks. The woman’s children and relatives will certainly be affected by the execution scenes and will suffer deep psychological problems.”
Visitor said that she had received a shock on seeing the clip.
“It was the first time I saw an execution and I was truly shaken by the clip,” she said. “I wish I had watched it because I could not sleep that evening,” she said.