Supporters on Hill urge Canadian gov’t to intervene
Friends and supporters of a 23-year-old Canadian man facing execution in Saudi Arabia gathered on Parliament Hill yesterday to urge Canada’s government to redouble efforts to save him.
The Conservative government has said it would seek clemency for Mohamed Kohail, but rally organizer Pamela Eid said they are asking the government to push for a new trial and are urging Canadians to think about what they would expect from their government if they were in Kohail’s situation.
"People should just let the government know that they are aware of what’s happening and they expect them to act as fast as they can," said Eid, who added that an online petition and several Facebook groups related to the case have been set up.
On March 3, Kohail — a Palestinian immigrant and Canadian citizen living in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux — was convicted of murder following a January 2007 schoolyard brawl in which Munzer Hiraki, 19, suffered fatal injuries.
According to Aubrey Harris, with Amnesty International, Kohail’s trial lasted 90 minutes in which his lawyers only appeared briefly and family witnesses were not heard.
He was sentenced to a public beheading.
Harris said they believe Kohail and his brother Sultan, 17, were interrogated without legal representation before they were coerced to sign a confession.
Lawyers for Kohail had 30 days from the sentencing to appeal. That is down to less than a week.
Mahmoud Younis, Kohail’s best friend in Montreal, said his friend had left Canada to attend his sister’s wedding.
"He couldn’t wait to get back to Canada where he felt free, safe and secure," said Younis.
Younis said that Kohail considered his Canadian citizenship as a great gift. "I have faith in the Canadian government and I am sure they will act promptly to guarantee that his rights are being served."