Published — Tuesday 15 January 2013
Last update 16 January 2013 7:58 pm
JEDDAH: A Jeddah court on Tuesday convicted Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Al-Gizawi on drug trafficking charges and sentenced him to five years in prison and 300 lashes.
Another Egyptian, arrested over the same case, was sentenced to four years in prison and 400 lashes, while their Saudi partner was jailed for two years and will get 100 lashes.
Al-Gizawi was arrested in April 2012 after he was allegedly caught trying to smuggle into the kingdom 21,380 capsules of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, which is banned in Saudi Arabia.
The prosecution, which alleged that Gizawi had hidden the banned substance in two milk cartons and a cover for the Qur'an, had demanded the death penalty for the accused.
But the judge, admitting that the "verdicts are lenient,” cited the defendants’ “good morals ... and the lack of judicial precedents.”
The verdicts can be appealed within one month.
Gizawi had traveled last year to Saudi Arabia with his wife to perform the Umrar in Makkah and Medina, when he was detained at the Jeddah international airport.
Gizawi's case sparked a diplomatic row, with the kingdom withdrawing its ambassador in Cairo amid threats from Egyptian protesters who had been demonstrating outside the Saudi Embassy.
The Egyptian organization Arabic Network for Human Rights Information claimed that Gizawi was being targeted for his activism over Egyptian detainees in Saudi prisons. a charged strong denied by Saudi officials.
The embassy reopened on May 4 following a fence-mending visit to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah by a large delegation of prominent Egyptian figures.