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The defendants also include an ex-justice cleric, and real-estate dealers. Illustrative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme court has confirmed jail sentences totalling 70 years earlier handed down to 26 people including a former judge in a high-profile property deed manipulation case that surfaced more than a decade ago, a media report said.

The ruling are now final, justice sources were quoted as saying.

The defendants also include an ex-justice cleric, and real-estate dealers.

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The case started in Al Baha in south-western Saudi Arabia in 2011 and involved two-month investigations with suspects, who also included businessmen.

They were charged with issuing dubious property deeds and using Saudi nationals’ identification cards without their knowing in selling, buying and proving title deeds.

More than 40 witnesses were cross-examined in the case. At the time, 12 defendants were kept in prison for more than a year pending the trial.

Last May, an appeals court handed down the imprisonment sentencing to the defendants after convicting them of tampering with property deeds.

The charges included bribery, forgery of official documents, involvement in money laundering, influence peddling for personal interests, fraud and false testimonies.

The defendants were accused of forging 22 title deeds of land pieces located in Al Baha.

Earnings raked in by the defendants from the dealings amounted to SR130 million, according to media reports.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up a crackdown on corruption, arresting dozens of state employees and entrepreneurs.

Last March, the kingdom’s state anti-corruption watchdog announced uncovering a multi-million-riyal graft case involving diplomats, security personnel and expatriates linked to illegal trade in labour visas.