Most detained in Saudi purge agree to financial settlement, says attorney general

Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mujib. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Most detained in Saudi purge agree to financial settlement, says attorney general

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Anti-Corruption Committee has subpoenaed 320 people so far, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mujib announced in a statement on Monday.
The committee was established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under Royal Order Number A/38 on Nov. 4, and immediately announced a swathe of arrests in a sweeping crackdown on corruption in the Kingdom.
A number of high-profile individuals were arrested, including ministers, royal family members, and prominent businessmen.
Since the committee’s last announcement on Nov. 9, Al-Mujib said additional individuals had been subpoenaed “as a result of information revealed.”
Al-Mujib revealed that “most detainees” facing corruption allegations have agreed to a settlement and that their agreements are currently being finalized.
He said that “a number of individuals” had been referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and that 159 people currently remain in detention.
“Based on evidence,” the statement read, “the Public Prosecutor’s Office decided to continue detaining a limited number of individuals and release the remaining individuals.”
The attorney general said that procedures related to the corruption cases are being carried out in two phases. The first phase, he explained, applies to those who admit to the allegations “freely and without coercion” and is based on the Royal Order’s stipulation that the committee “has the right to decide what it deems as achieving public interest, especially with those who responded positively to the Committee.”
The committee has followed internationally applied procedures, Al-Mujib said, and offered detainees the chance to agree to a settlement recouping the State’s funds and assets, thus eliminating the need for prolonged litigation.
“No detainee will be pressurized in any shape or form,” Al-Mujib said, “and each detainee has the right to refuse to settle at any time before the settlement agreement is signed.”
He also stressed that the Law of Criminal Procedures guarantees defendants’ rights, including the right to an attorney during the processes of investigation and prosecution and the right to contact and inform any person of their detention. The Law of Criminal Procedures also prohibits subjecting detainees to any harm, he added.
If a detainee reaches a settlement agreement, the committee will end litigation and issue a pardon to that individual. But any detainees who deny the allegations, or with whom a settlement cannot be reached, are referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will continue to investigate and present its findings to the suspect, in accordance with the Law of Criminal Procedures.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office also decides on an appropriate detention period for each individual — if the evidence warrants detention — as their case is investigated. The attorney general can authorize detention of up to six months, but the relevant court can order an extension of that period.
Once the investigation is concluded, the Public Prosecutor’s Office decides if there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed. If there is not, the individual is released.
Al-Mujib confirmed that the bank accounts of 376 individuals — who are either detainees or are linked to allegations of corruption — remain frozen, but stressed that the assets and corporate entities of those detained, and any rights of any other parties to such assets or corporate entities, would not be affected or disrupted.
 


Fantastic four: Saudi women fly the flag for cycling

Updated 19 July 2018
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Fantastic four: Saudi women fly the flag for cycling

  • Saudi Arabia’s first women-only 10-kilometer cycling race was held in April 2018 at the King Abdullah City for Sports in Jeddah
  • More than 70 Saudi cyclists took part in the tour, including the four HerRide members

JEDDAH: Before Saudi Arabia’s women drivers there were Saudi women cyclists. Thousands of women around the Kingdom have taken to two wheels in the past few years, and groups of female cyclists are a common sight on city streets.

Now four young women have taken cycling to a new level by becoming the first Saudi female cycling team to join the Global Biking Initiative (GBI) European tour, an annual seven-day ride that highlights the sport and raises money for a range of charitable causes.

Sisters Fatimah and Yasa Al-Bloushi, Dina Al-Nasser and Anoud Aljuraid — founder members of the HerRide cycling group — joined hundreds of cyclists from all over the world earlier this month when the tour kicked off from Gothenburg in Sweden before heading through Denmark and on to the port of Hamburg in northern Germany.

More than 70 Saudi cyclists took part in the tour, including the four HerRide members. 

The dynamic HerRide team shares a passion for adventure, and a love of outdoor activities and sports. Fatimah Al-Bloushi, the team captain, told Arab News that when she started the group in July, 2017, “we were a group of amateur cycling enthusiasts and our idea was to train to be the first Saudi female team to participate in GBI Europe 2018.” 

This year was Fatimah’s second time in the GBI tour. Last year she was the first and only Saudi woman to take part in the event. 

“I want to empower Saudi women and encourage cycling,” she said.

Fatimah also enjoys skydiving, surfing, abseiling and climbing, and is also the first woman member of the Saudi Cycling Federation. In her hometown of Alkhobar, she organizes women’s gatherings twice a week to cycle together along the beachfront. She also volunteers to teach cycling for beginners. 

Like all sports events and tours, training plays a crucial role in preparing for the GBI tour. Team member Anoud Aljuraid, an accomplished hiker and technical climber, met Fatimah two years ago while climbing the Ol Doinyo Lengai, or “Mountain of God,” volcano in Tanzania.

“For me the challenge was sitting on the bike for up to eight hours while riding up to 100 kilometers a day,” Aljuraid said. “It was also hard to maintain a certain speed to reach the next destination or nutrition point on time, but my training helped me get over those challenges.”

Although the number of women cyclists on the streets of Saudi Arabia is growing, challenges remain for those joining the sport.

Team member Dina Al-Nasser lives in Riyadh and enjoys long-distance cycling as well as hiking and boxing. Her biggest challenge during the GBI tour was cycling alongside cars.

“I mostly trained at home, but it’s hard for me to train in areas where men usually train, such as Wadi Hanifa and Ammariyah,” she said. “However, I was able to get over my fear and by the third day on the tour I was riding alongside trucks and didn’t even notice.”

Al-Nasser said that cycling is challenging not only for women in Saudi Arabia but for professional cyclists in general.

“We hope that the streets will be more bike friendly, and that people can adopt the same infrastructure for cyclists that we have seen on the tour — such as special paved paths and traffic lights — here in the Kingdom,” she said. 

“Hopefully, cycling will become a lifestyle in Saudi Arabia and we will see people cycling to work one day.” 

The Saudi HerRide women’s team celebrate a challenging stage finish on the GBI European tour. (Supplied photo)

Despite the challenges, the HerRide team say they are hoping to join the next GBI tour. “It was a great experience to cross three countries by bicycle,” Yasa Al-Bloushi said. “Of course, we got some bruises and had falls here and there, but I look at that as a sign of accomplishment.”

The team members gained valuable skills from watching other riders during the tour. “I learned how to be a part of a team and to look out for each other. It was important to listen to my team-mates and focus on their needs,” said Dina Al-Nasser.

 Fatima Al-Bloushi said that the support of her team made her second tour more special than the first. “We knew each other’s weaknesses from day one and we always had each other’s back. If our energy levels were low, someone would provide nutrition. When our spirits were down, we had music to give us a boost, and when someone was nervous, we reminded each other to have fun,” she said.

“I experienced GBI twice. The first time I went alone and came back with a family of friends. The second time I went with friends and came back with family.”

The woman said the spirit of cooperation among cyclists on the tour was empowering. “What made this experience even more amazing, besides the beautiful scenery, was the quality of people we met,” said Fatima. “If we were struggling, they would pass by with a smile, give you a pat on the back and tell you that you were strong enough to push through — it really did make us feel stronger.”

 In future, the group plans to hire a professional trainer and offer cycling workshops for Saudi women. They also hope long-distance cycling events, such as the GBI, will one day be held in Saudi Arabia. 

“Under Vision 2030, I’m sure there will be a lot of local events for cyclists in the Kingdom, including women,” said Al-Nasser.

The four cyclists have some words of encouragement for Saudi women hoping to fulfil their dreams. “You will always find people who will give you negative comments, but as long as you are doing what you love and are not hurting anyone, just keep going,” said Al-Nasser. 

Fatimah said: “Two years ago I was looking to join a cycling team, but as a woman in Saudi Arabia I was unable to — now things have changed. My advice to all women out there is never say ‘no,’ always say ‘yes’ to opportunities.”