RIYADH - A Saudi court sentenced a preacher convicted of raping his five-year-old daughter and torturing her to death to eight years in prison and 800 lashes, a lawyer said on Tuesday.
In a case that drew widespread public condemnation in the kingdom and abroad, the court on Monday also ordered Fayhan al-Ghamdi to pay his ex-wife, the girl’s mother, one million riyals ($270,000) in ‘blood money’, lawyer Turki al-Rasheed told AFP.
Blood money is compensation for the next of kin under Islamic law.
The girl’s mother had demanded 10 million riyals ($2.7 million). Ghamdi’s second wife, accused of taking part in the crime, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and 150 lashes, said Rasheed, who is lawyer for the girl’s mother. Ghamdi was convicted of “raping and killing his five-year-old daughter Lama,” he added.
The girl was admitted to hospital on December 25, 2011 with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns, activists said. She died several months later.
Ghamdi, a regular guest on Muslim television networks despite not being an authorised cleric in Saudi Arabia, had confessed to having used cables and a cane to inflict the injuries, human rights activists said earlier this year.
Randa al-Kaleeb, a social worker from the hospital where Lama was admitted, said the girl’s back was broken and that she had been raped “everywhere”.Reportedly, Ghamdi had tortured and raped his daughter after he had doubted her virginity. Saudi rights activist Aziza al-Yousef said that Ghamdi’s sentence was too lenient. “We are extremely disappointed,” she said. “He should have been jailed for life or executed to serve as an example.”
Yousef was among many rights activists in the kingdom who had been campaigning for harsher sentence for Ghamdi after reports emerged in January that the court would only give him a short jail term and order him to pay blood money to the mother.
Saud Shemmari, co-founder of the Saudi Liberal Network, criticised the “very light sentence, which probably came because the assailant was bearded.”
Another activist, Khuloud al-Fahd, was also shocked by Ghamdi’s punishment.
“A few years ago, two burglars stole two sheep and were sentenced to five years in prison and lashes. How can a father who killed his daughter be condemned to such a light sentence?” she asked.
In ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where rape and murder are among several crimes punishable by death, a father cannot be executed for murdering his children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering their wives.
Such crimes carry a jail sentence between five to 12 years.
In August, Saudi Arabia adopted a law criminalising domestic violence, usually targeting women and children, the first such law in the kingdom. But the law has not yet been implemented.
According to BBC, Lama’s mother denied reports that he had raped her. The case of Fayhan al-Ghamdi made headlines around the world earlier this year when it was suggested that a Saudi court might let him walk free. Activists began a campaign named after his daughter, “I am Lama”, to press the authorities to prevent that happening. Al-Ghamdi is not recognised as a cleric by the Saudi religious establishment.