Canadian Teen Involved In Fatal Brawl Sentenced

RIYADH, 6 April 2008 — Seventeen-year-old Canadian Sultan Kohail was sentenced to one year in prison and 200 lashes by a court in Jeddah yesterday in a much-publicized schoolyard brawl case in which Sultan’s elder brother Mohammed Kohail was sentenced to be beheaded last month.

One Saudi student died of internal bleeding after the fighting.

The judgment came at a time when Canada has been exerting all efforts, political as well as diplomatic, on Riyadh for a retrial in the case and possibly for clemency at a later stage.

“The verdict was pronounced by a special juvenile court, but at the moment Sultan is on bail; he is not behind bars,” said a family source to Arab News here yesterday.

The case has attracted much media attention because of the conviction of the two Canadian brothers and the role of the Canadian government.

After the death of the Saudi student, Kohail, 23, and his brother Sultan were detained along with a Jordanian national. Sultan was freed on bail in July, but Kohail was convicted of murder and sentenced to death on March 3.

The family has argued that Kohail did not get a fair trial and is seeking appeal. The family contends that the entire judicial process took just 90 minutes in 10 different hearings.

The two brothers are of Palestinian origin, but have been Canadian citizens since 2005. They have lived in Montreal and came to Saudi Arabia in 2006 to attend a wedding in the family.

The Canadian government has said it will seek clemency for Kohail after a directive from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day met with Saudi officials during a visit to Saudi Arabia recently and asked that the death sentence be overturned and the case reviewed.

Asked about the latest developments in the case, Yves Duval, a spokesman of Canadian Embassy, said that the Canadian mission is doing all it can to help its citizens.

He, however, did not divulge details of the efforts made by the mission to solve the case and rescue Kohail from the gallows. This reporter waited for the return call of Duval as promised, but to no avail.

The case has become more complex now with the verdict against Sultan, which confirmed his role in the school fight. Ron Davidson, Canada’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, met with the Kohail family recently to discuss the situation. He was also to meet with officials of Saudi government agencies, including the Justice Ministry, to seek support.

The Canadian government has said that it will seek clemency for Kohail, if needed.

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