Manama: A man who killed a guest during a wedding celebratory fire will have to face justice under public law despite being forgiven by the dead man’s family.
The guest was not connected to the family and travelled 250 kilometres from Arar to Turaif in northern Saudi Arabia to accompany a friend who wanted to attend the wedding of a relative.
He was sitting with other guests when a stray bullet fired in the air hit him.
He was taken to the local hospital, but was pronounced dead, Saudi daily Al Watan reported on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the Northern Border police confirmed the incident and said that all legal measures had been taken.
A source told the daily that the victim’s father said that he forgave the killer and that he did not wish to take the matter further.
However, the police refused to release the killer, saying that the case had been referred to the public prosecution under the public law.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have regularly cautioned against celebratory fire and warned their zero-tolerance policy towards firing bullets in the air to celebrate events would be fully applied.
The authorities assigned policemen to monitor palaces, wedding halls and relaxation areas to ensure full compliance with the law amid warnings that whoever breaks the law will be severely punished.
They also requested all multi-function halls to install surveillance cameras that covered the open spaces outside in order to monitor the situation.
Halls can no longer be rented without signing an agreement there would be no celebratory fire — and the event host is obliged to commit to report any violation or any attempt to fire bullets.
The decision to apply the strict policy was made in 2012 following a noticeable increase in the incidence of fatal and serious injuries to innocent people by stray bullets during public celebrations.
Under Saudi regulations that outlaw the dangerous celebratory gunfire, even the groom can be arrested in case guests start shooting in the air.
Celebratory gunfire is common in the Middle East, but it is also a cultural tradition in South Asia and South America.