Fate Of Murder Convicts Hangs In The Balance

RIYADH: The death sentence handed to eight Bangladeshi workers for killing an Egyptian has not been carried out.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry has sent no information to the Bangladeshi Embassy. M. Haroonur Rashid, labor counselor at the embassy, said: “The embassy has sent a letter to the ministry seeking information about the workers currently in Malaz Prison after their convictions following a court battle.”

Rashid, who spoke about the problems faced by Asian workers in the Kingdom said the embassy had stepped up efforts to save the eight workers while awaiting a formal reply from the Foreign Ministry. An appeal against the verdict, he said, had been rejected and there is no word about the acceptance or rejection of the second appeal.

The local Bangladeshi community is preparing to raise money that might be paid as compensation.

The case involves eight workers sentenced to death two years ago for killing an Egyptian in Riyadh; three accomplices were also sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed has written a letter to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, seeking clemency for the workers.

According to the report, the Bangladeshi workers held the Egyptian man on April 28, 2007, when he tried to escape after stealing valuable electric wire from the company’s accommodation where the Bangladeshi workers lived.

While the workers were quizzing the Egyptian, other Egyptian workers from a nearby factory came to help their compatriot and this led to violent fighting in which one Egyptian was killed on the spot.

Referring to another case in which a number of workers are being grossly mistreated, Rashid said a group of 19 Bangladeshi workers had been allegedly abandoned without food and accommodation by an employer in Riyadh.

He said that these 19 poor workers were employed by Megah Contracting Company some two years ago. He explained: “These men, after two years, have neither iqamas nor accommodation.”

He called on the Saudi authorities to expedite solutions for such problems. Major labor problems include nonpayment of salaries, long duty hours, noncompliance with contractual provisions, poor accommodation and even deserting the workers without food and accommodation in remote locations. Saudi Arabia is home to over 1.4 million Bangladeshi expatriates, including women domestic helpers.

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