Kohail Case Takes New Turn

RIYADH: The case of the Canadian brothers, in which one of the young men has been sentenced to death, has taken a new turn after the victim’s family has allegedly demanded five million dollars as blood money (diyyah). The father of the brothers says the family can only afford SR500,000.

“The case has also bounced back again to Jeddah General Court from the Supreme Judicial Council while family members are waiting in despondency to hear the court’s directives in the case,” said Ali Kohail, father of Mohammed Kohail and Sultan Kohail, the two brothers found guilty of a death that occurred in a schoolyard brawl, on Saturday.

Ali, who was still hopeful, said: “This is probably for the fifth time that the case in which Mohammed has been sentenced to death has been sent back to Jeddah General Court for review. I don’t know how long and how many times, the case will be transferred from one court to another.”

The General Court has been told to review the case again on technical grounds. The family of the brothers is currently in Jeddah watching the progress in the case.

Ali’s son Mohammed, who has been in a Jeddah jail for the last two years and eight months, grew up in Saudi Arabia but later moved to Montreal. Mohammed became involved in the school brawl after his brother Sultan, 16, called for his help.

Later, the two brothers and a Jordanian were charged and convicted for the murder of Syrian national Munzer Al-Hiraki in the January 2007 incident. The Kohail brothers, who were arrested the same time, were convicted for leading a group of youths armed with knives and clubs and indulge in insulting a girl and killing Al-Hiraki.

Sultan was still awaiting retrial before the General Court, and therefore remains at risk of being sentenced to death if convicted.

The General Court upheld the death sentence for Mohammed on previous occasions, including on April 4, 2009, but the case is still undecided.

Asked about the hefty sum demanded by the family, Ali said that he would not like to comment further on the negotiations.

Ali pointed out that he had approached the Al-Hiraki family several times, but there had been no substantial progress so far toward an out-of-court settlement. In June this year, Mohammed wrote directly to Canadian Premier Stephen Harper, asking the prime minister to personally intervene in his case.

Family members gave the letter to Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day when they met him in Jeddah and asked Day to deliver it to Harper. In it, Kohail tells Harper that he feels his government has let him down. While Day met with the family, he didn’t go to the prison at that time where Kohail is being held. The minister was in Saudi Arabia as part of a business trip to the Middle East.

The Canadian brothers had repeatedly said they were acting in self-defense and were not involved in inflicting the fatal injuries during the fight, which involved dozens of teenagers.

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