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Issue Date:  December 14, 2007

Rape victim's lawyer disciplined

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, the lawyer who represented a rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in a car with a male who was not a relative, faced a closed-door disciplinary hearing Dec. 5.

A three-member panel consisting of two judges and a lawyer will review a complaint by a state prosecutor that accuses the 36-year-old Saudi lawyer and human rights activist of “misrepresenting legal subjects through the media to confuse the judicial establishment’s image and thus harming the country,” according to a copy of the summons obtained by Arab News.

The woman concerned, known as the “al-Qatif girl,” was tried in November 2006 together with a male companion who was accompanying her when she was attacked and gang-raped by seven men. The now 20-year-old woman and her companion received a six-month prison sentence and still face the prospect of floggings. The gang-rape perpetrators were sentenced to two to nine years and flogging.

Al-Lahem’s license was revoked Nov. 14 during a hearing about the case, which has caused outrage around the world, including some Muslim countries. He did not attend the disciplinary Dec. 5 hearing, but was represented by another attorney.

In recent days Saudi authorities have taken a hard line against the woman. The Saudi Ministry of Justice has defended the woman’s punishment, declaring her to be an adulteress who “provoked the attack” because she was “indecently dressed.”

The foreign ministry announced that the case will be reviewed, also looking into the possibility of adultery, which for the “al-Qatif girl” might theoretically mean the death penalty.


National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2007

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