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Saudi Arabia

Moved by Pak convict’s plight, judge helps raise blood money

A top judge at the Jeddah Summary Court has paved the way for the release on humanitarian grounds of an imprisoned Pakistani convicted of murder.
But bureaucratic wrangles have delayed the release of 50-year-old Mohammad Naeem, who has been incarcerated for 12 years in prison, said a court official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Shaikh Ibrahim Al-Salama, president of Jeddah Summery Court, helped raise SR 110,000 in blood money through philanthropists with intent to get Naeem pardoned.
Naeem was scheduled to be released from custody on Monday.
“The guy should be out and sent back home but his papers are stuck in the prison because of red-tapism,” the court official said. “Usually, it takes few days to release a pardoned inmate but unfortunately it takes longer time to release non-Saudis until deportation papers are finalized.”
The official said that Naeem appeared mentally ill when Al-Salama tried to speak to him during a recent court appearance. “It appeared that Naeem was unaware of his surroundings.”
Naeem’s mental health appears to have deteriorated after his case for a pardon passed over on numerous occasions. The government routinely provides pardons during Ramadan.
“I think being in prison for 12 years for only SR110,000 and seeing his cellmates included in pardons but not him made him lose hope of ever getting out of the jail,” said the official.
Prison officers watching his cell also noticed that he was acting strange lately.
At the time of the murder and subsequent conviction, the court convinced the victim’s family to accept the blood money of SR110,000 and pardon him, but Naeem’s family did not have the ability to raise the money.
The president of Jeddah Summary Court convinced several philanthropists who donated the money. The pardon was approved after the total sum was raised. Release procedures then began.
The official told Arab News that many expatriates are detained in prison for many years in private right cases. Sometimes they spend 10 to 15 years for blood money sums that amount to only SR 100,000 to SR 200,000.
Suicides are not uncommon among prisoners who lose hope of ever achieving freedom.
The court official blamed the current system in courts and the prisons administration for not following up the condition of private right detainees.
He also said that some of the money claimers refuse to pardon defendants, although they spend as much as 10 years in custody. But judges are volunteering to negotiate between the parties. Judges are willing to contact businessmen and philanthropists if necessary to donate for the pardon.

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