Lower court leaves Montreal man in legal limbo languishing in Saudi jail

MONTREAL - A lower court in Saudi Arabia has once again refused to reconsider its ruling in the case of a Montreal man facing public beheading in Saudi Arabia.

MONTREAL - A lower court in Saudi Arabia has once again refused to reconsider its ruling in the case of a Montreal man facing public beheading in Saudi Arabia.

The latest decision leaves Mohamed Kohail languishing in a Saudi jail while the case heads back to Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council again.

Kohail's lawyer told Liberal MP Dan McTeague on Tuesday that the Jidda General Court would simply uphold their decision.

The two Saudi courts have been pitching the case back and forth to each other over the past months, a judicial stalemate that International Trade Minister Stockwell Day judged was a good sign.

Day said during a trip to the Middle East over the weekend that the country's highest court isn't sold on the lower court's ruling and that could play in Kohail's favour.

But McTeague said Tuesday it's clear with the latest ruling that the Canadian government must take a stronger diplomatic stand.

"We're at the point now that the lower court refuses to change its mind," McTeague said.

"It doesn't care to hear evidence, it has made up its mind once and it doesn't want to be caught entertaining facts."

Kohail, 24, and a Jordanian friend were sentenced to death after being convicted in the death of Munzer Al-Hiraki during an after-school brawl in Jidda in 2007. The fight was sparked after Kohail's younger brother Sultan, 18, got into a row with Al-Hiraki's female cousin.

The brothers have repeatedly said they were acting in self-defence and were not involved in inflicting the fatal wounds during the fight, which involved dozens of teenagers.

In November, the verdict was upheld by the Appeals Court but was not endorsed by the Supreme Judicial Council when it looked at the case in February.

Sultan Kohail, meanwhile, had earlier been sentenced to 200 lashes and a year in prison by a juvenile court but that ruling was overturned by an appeals court. Sultan was ordered to face a new trial in adult court and a possible death penalty.

There has been some informal talk of a possible dia - or blood money compensation - being paid to the victim's family to spare the lives of the Kohails. But the amount allegedly being sought, believed to be about $5 million, is far more than they can afford.

Both brothers have claimed their innocence and say the Saudi judicial system has not afforded them a fair trial.

Mohamed Kohail has written twice to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A letter was given to Day for Harper by Kohail's family on the weekend.

In it, Mohamed Kohail has asked the prime minister to personally intervene in his case.

McTeague said Harper must act.

"The ball clearly rests with the prime minister to once and for all raise this sham and this farce," he said. "To demand that this innocent Canadian be released and that the Saudi government account for the confession obtained under duress, under torture, which is a breach of Saudi Arabia's international obligation."

 
 
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