Canadian In School Brawl To Appeal Death Sentence

RIYADH, 5 March 2008 — A Canadian citizen who has been sentenced to death by a Saudi court will appeal the verdict.

“The case will undergo an appeals process,” Andrea Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Embassy, said here yesterday. “We are very concerned about the death penalty handed down to Mohammed Kohail, 23, from the Canadian city of Montreal.”

Kohail was convicted of killing an 18-year-old student in a schoolyard brawl in Jeddah in January 2007. Meyer said the embassy has had regular consular access to Kohail and his imprisoned brother Sultan.

Kohail has 80 days to appeal his conviction. The Kohail family, who reportedly runs a furniture business, immigrated to Canada in 2000. Kohail’s Saudi friend Muhanna Ezzat, 22, has also been sentenced to death in the same case.

The court convicted the two young men of killing Munzer Haraki, 19, after Haraki tried to pick a fight with Kohail’s brother Sultan, 17, for allegedly insulting his female cousin Raneen Haraki. Raneen attended the same school as Sultan.

Meyer said that senior Canadian officials in Ottawa as well as diplomats in Riyadh are “very much involved in the case” and they have been in regular communication with the legal counsel and the family since the case first came up.

Meanwhile, relatives and friends of Kohail have demanded immediate help from the Canadian government, said reports in the Canadian press yesterday.

The family of Kohail spent several years in Montreal before recently returning to Saudi Arabia.

Sultan said he called for help from Kohail when several boys confronted him over the insult. According to the account of the Kohail brothers, Kohail arrived at the school with a male friend to face about a dozen of the girl’s relatives and friends. Some were reportedly armed with clubs and knives.

One of the attackers was punched, fell to the ground and died. He has been identified as Haraki, the cousin of the girl who was supposedly insulted.

Ali Kohail, the brothers’ father, said the family had only temporarily relocated to Saudi Arabia to attend a relative’s wedding. They intended to return to Montreal where they own a house.

Ali said that a Canadian honorary consul was present for the verdict.

He said that an autopsy showed the victim died from bleeding in the bladder complicated by a weak heart. He died in the school’s narrow passage, which was packed with boys pushing and shoving each other.

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