Royal Pardon For 24 Filipinos

RIYADH, 10 June 2004 — Saudi authorities have freed 24 Filipinos, who had been in jail in Riyadh following convictions on drug charges.

The Filipinos have been deported to the Philippines after being released from Al-Hair Prison following a royal clemency granted by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd.

“A group of 14 Filipinos are still in the same prison on drug charges,” said Romulo Victor M. Israel, third secretary & vice consul at the Philippine Embassy.

The last group of the 24 left for Manila on June 3.

Israel and Reynold D. Banda, an attaché at the Philippine Embassy, thanked the Saudi government and King Fahd for the royal pardon. The pardon follows efforts by Filipino diplomats, who have been working with the Saudi officials for several months.

Asked about the 14 Filipino workers currently detained on drug charges in Al-Hair, the diplomats said: “The Philippine Embassy has been closely working with the Saudi authorities but the process of releasing a detainee or convict is a cumbersome one.”

The embassy officials said that a total of 52 Filipinos in jail include those detained or convicted for drugs, alcohol, immorality and embezzlement. Recently a number of Filipinos have been detained and arrested on various charges.

The Philippine Embassy handles some 20,000 requests for assistance annually from its nationals in the Kingdom. At the moment, there are more than 850,000 Filipinos in the Kingdom.

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