DFA welcomes issuance of Saudi royal pardons; hopes OFW in list

January 5, 2010 11:06 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan. 05 — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday hints at a glimmer of hope in the case of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Dondon Lanusa, currently serving a suspended death sentence in a Riyadh prison, as it welcomed information on the issuance of royal pardons by Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, the Custodian of Islam’s Two Holy Mosques.

The DFA said that the Saudi King issued on December 11 the royal pardons to “some (foreign) prisoners who do not pose any danger to (Saudi) public security” to mark the return to the Kingdom of the Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz from an apparent successful medical checkup in the United States.

The names of those in the list of royal pardons are not yet publicly released and may be known only after a few weeks, the DFA said, while expressing hopes that Lanusa would be among them.

Lanusa is one of imprisoned Filipinos for which the DFA make representations for pardons on numerous occasions, and “in the light of the announcement of the pardon” will "redouble its efforts" to appeal their cases, according to DFA spokesperson J. Eduardo Malaya.

Royal pardons are generally for those who are detained or sentenced to jail for petty crimes and violations and who have made restitution to their victims.

Lanusa has been languishing in a Saudi prison since his arrest on Aug. 10, 2000 for the death of Mohammad Al-Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian national.

On June 10, 2002, he was found guilty by the Dammam Grand Court and sentenced to death by beheading.

However, following Saudi customary laws, beheading was suspended to until Mohammad’s son — currently just 10 years old — reaches the age of majority, in Saudi Arabia's case, 18 years old.

When the son reaches the “threshold of adulthood,” he would have a say on the final fate of his father’s killer.

It is not clear, however, if a royal pardon could altogether immediately free Lanusa from prison or simply spare him from being executed after restitution offers are accepted instead of serving a life sentence.

The Philippine embassy in Riyadh has “hired a private defense lawyer to ensure that due process is observed” in Lanusa’s case, DFA said.

Other Filipinos in Saudi jails for grave offenses are also being helped by the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and Consulate General in Jeddah. (PNA)



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