Parents’ heartfelt appeal to female Saudi child-snatcher sentenced to death for abducting 3 babies

Nicknamed the Dammam Kidnapper, Saudi woman took Nassim Habtoor in 1996. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 September 2020

Parents’ heartfelt appeal to female Saudi child-snatcher sentenced to death for abducting 3 babies

  • The woman dubbed the 'Dammam Kidnapper' kidnapped the boy in 1996

MAKKAH: The parents of a child snatched in 1996 by a Saudi woman, nicknamed the Dammam Kidnapper, on Thursday made a heartfelt appeal for her to reveal their son’s whereabouts after a court sentenced her to death.
Noori Habtoor, the father of missing Nassim Habtoor, said he feared that if the Saudi Criminal Court’s ruling in the triple abduction case was carried out his family may never discover the boy’s fate.
The female kidnapper, who was also on trial for taking two other baby boys, has refused to say where Nassim, who would now be in his 20s, is located. The court hearing in Dammam, in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, also sentenced a Yemeni, who assisted her, to 25 years in prison.
Habtoor told Arab News: “We want her (the kidnapper) to talk and reveal the information she has. I wish that Nassim’s mother and I could talk to her in private, so that she reveals our son’s location before it is too late.”
He said that the third child kidnapped by the woman in Dammam, Youssef Al-Amari, was snatched on Sept. 9, 1996, and Nassim 10 days later, both from the same place.
The kidnapper had testified to taking a child from Dammam Corniche at about the same time that Nassim vanished. The other children were kidnapped from a hospital in the city.
“The kidnapper did not admit to kidnapping the rest of the babies, let alone Nassim. The evidence is conclusive in her sentencing, but she is playing deaf and mute instead of confessing to his location, while knowing about our ongoing search and our heartache,” added Habtoor.
The other child that disappeared was Moussa Al-Khanizi. His father, Ali Al-Khanizi, told Arab News that the trial had been fair and impartial, and that its outcome had “satisfied” the family after years of waiting, sleeplessness, and pain.
He said Moussa’s mother had experienced immense suffering after the son she gave birth to disappeared in the blink of an eye, adding that the woman kidnapper should now disclose any criminal accomplices and reveal Nassim’s whereabouts.
“We all realize that the kidnapper knows Nassim Habtoor’s location, and is evading the disclosure of his location, and in this regard, we are urging her son, lawyer, brothers, and relatives to help us, and whether she kidnapped other babies.
“This would make us stand with her and demand reducing her sentence, otherwise, she will face the death penalty,” Al-Khanizi added.
Lawyer Hisham Al-Faraj said the court judges’ verdict reflected the serious nature of the crime and hoped the death penalty would act as a deterrent to others.
“The judicial right is guaranteed even for those proven guilty due to the systems in the country, and even for those proven guilty in such crimes and sentenced to death, the Court of Appeals’ verification is obligatory, which means that the case will be referred to the first degree court and the court of appeals to ensure that the defendant deserves the death penalty.
“Even after the investigation of the Court of Appeals with judges who have decades of experience, the decision is not final. In order to ensure people’s rights, it is the Supreme Court’s duty — that has judges with around 40 years of experience — to look into the case in the death penalty,” Al-Faraj added.

Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 September 2020

Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.

He added that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. A number of factors are taken into consideration when reaching a conclusion.

“We examine the drugs and make sure they have caused no side effects when tested on humans, or that they just caused insignificant side effects,” said Al-Harbi. “We also look into the manufacturing company’s profile to ensure it follows the standards of the good manufacturing practices, and that the company’s products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.”

He added that SFDA is also doing a great job in ensuring that vaccines are safe, to avoid any risks to the health of people in the Kingdom.

In a message posted on Twitter, KAIMRC said that some countries, such as Russia, China and the UAE, have given doctors the green light to use some vaccines on patients before that have been approved, but only in emergency cases and when the results of early clinical studies indicate that the vaccine is safe.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced 27 additional COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll in the country now stands at 4,512.

Meanwhile, 492 new cases have been confirmed in the Kingdom, bringing the total number of people infected by the virus to 330,246. Of those, 14,235 cases remain active and 1,133 patients are in a critical condition.

The Ministry of Health said Makkah recorded the highest number of new cases, with 58, followed by Jeddah with 53, and Madinah with 38.

A further 1,060 people in the Kingdom have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 311,499. A total of 6,093,601 tests for the virus have been carries out in the country, including 43,652 in the past 24 hours.