Fayhan Al Gamdi Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: The mother of a five-year-old girl who was raped and tortured to death by her father has appealed against a Saudi court verdict that will allow her former husband to walk free after four months in jail.

Legal experts said that last week’s ruling was a primary judgement issued by the General Court of First Instance and that the girl’s mother had the right to lodge an appeal within 30 days. The man convicted of the crime, Fayhan Al Gamdi, was made to pay blood money to his ex-wife.

“The mother has the right to call for a stringent application of more severe sanctions against the offender,” Ahmad Al Muhaimeed, a legal consultant, said, quoted by Saudi news website Huroof. “People focused on the religious judgement but did not mention the private right where the ruling should not be less than five years in prison,” he said.

The mother used her right to legal counsel to lodge the appeal against the sentence, reports in Saudi Arabia said.

The Saudi Islamic Affairs Ministry had said in November that Al Ghamdi was not an officially sanctioned Islamic preacher. “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.”

Some reports suggested that Al Ghamdi had been employed as a security guard at a school.

Saudi bloggers have expressed anger and outrage at the lenient sentence for Al Ghamdi, who was found guilty of torturing his daughter Luma to death when she visited him and his new wife at their home.

Luma lived with her divorced mother and was allowed to visit her father even though he reportedly did not seem to care about her.

According to the woman, her ex-husband, appeared to be a gentle and reformed man after spending years of his life as a drug addict before they got married. However, following the marriage, he turned into a violent man who often often beat her, forcing her to file for divorce, she told Saudi media.

A court in the eastern city of Dammam ruled in her favour and she was told by the judge that she would have the custody of the daughter until the girl reached the age of seven.

The woman said that, following the divorce, her former husband had met their daughter only on four occasions.

“The last time was when I took her to visit him after he lapsed into a long silence even though Luma was keen on seeing him,” she said. “The agreement was that she spend only two weeks with him, but then 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,” she said.

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 eight months before she passed away,” she said.

Reports said that the father used wires and an iron rod to punish his daughter and that he had expressed doubts about her virginity.