Makkah: Saudi Couple Executed for Child Murder
Makkah, Jan 17: A Saudi couple, convicted of murdering a nine-year-old girl in 2006 after torturing her for a year, were executed here yesterday.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the Interior Ministry said Nashaat Ahmed Haji and his wife Iman Ghazawi were beheaded for killing Ghosun, Ahmed Haji’s daughter from his first marriage.
The ministry said the couple tortured and burned the girl because her father had suspicions that she was not his legitimate daughter. The story of the girl, who died in April 2006, was extensively reported in Arab News.
According to the ministry statement, Ahmed Haji had beaten the girl on her leg using an iron pipe. He then broke her left hand, threw kerosene on her face and burned her legs.
The man had on several occasions chained the girl to a window sill and had on one occasion denied her food and water for three consecutive days. He had hit the girl with his car while she was in the courtyard of the house. “All this was done to get rid of the girl simply because he had suspicions that Ghosun was not his lawful daughter,” the ministry said.
Spelling out the charges against Ahmed Haji’s wife Iman, the ministry said she had played a major role in the abuse by inciting her husband and even participating in the crime.
According to details revealed during the trial, the stepmother once pushed Ghosun to the wall and poured a flammable substance on her. She had tied her up on three occasions, kicked her in the stomach and beat her with a stick.
The ministry said the couple had tortured the child for a year after gaining custody of her from her biological mother following a legal battle. “The couple had confessed to their crime after investigation,” the ministry added.
The couple were executed after the Supreme Court Council upheld last month the verdict issued in April 2007 by a Makkah judge against them.
The man was sentenced to five years in prison initially, the minimum in such cases while his wife awaited prosecution. The child’s mother, however, refused to rest until she had obtained justice for her murdered daughter. She appealed the case and, in the face of overwhelming evidence and witnesses, the judge ruled that both the father and stepmother should be sentenced to death.
In his statement, the judge said that due to the horrible and barbaric nature of the murder, committed by people who were supposed to take care of the child, it is important to issue deterrent punishment.
While Ghosun was alive, the signs of abuse were visible to her uncles and mother whenever they managed to see her. Her mother had even sought the intervention of the police, the social service department, the National Society for Human Rights and the municipality a few days before her death.
None of the officials were able to remove Ghosun from her father’s custody. At one point, Ahmed Haji’s brother intervened and had succeeded in taking Ghosun to his home, but the father went to the police accusing his brother of kidnapping his daughter. Ahmed Haji was legally able to regain custody of the child.