Egyptian doctor sentenced to fifteen years jail, 1,500 lashes in Saudi Arabia

Friday, November 14, 2008

Raouf Amin el-Araby, a 52-year-old Egyptian doctor who has been serving the Saudi Royal family for 20 years, was convicted of malpractice. Egyptian newspapers reported that he was accused of driving a Saudi princess "to addiction", reportedly after treating a Saudi princess with painkillers.

Initially sentenced to 7 years and 700 lashes, he has been sentenced to 15 years and 1500 lashes, 70 a week, after making an appeal.

Family members, friends and colleagues gathered in outrage and grief outside the headquarters of Egypt's doctors union, calling upon King Abdullah to pardon Raouf. "1,500 lashes is unprecedented in the history of Islam," read one banner carried by protesters. "Who is responsible for the humiliation of our doctors abroad?" read another.

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and the foreign minister are working hard to find a way to return Raouf home quickly. Hafez Abu Saeda, the director of EOHR, stated that the princess was prescribed the same medication that she was receiving in the United States, "so it is obvious that the doctor was not at fault for her addiction."

Abu Saeda was astonished that the judge doubled the sentence and the lashes after the appeal. It is tantamount, he said, to penalizing Amin for asserting his right of appeal. "When you appeal against a sentencing it is the rule that it cannot go higher, but in Saudi Arabia it appears anything is possible," said Saeda.

Protests in Egypt have driven the Egyptian foreign ministry to seek a solution, partly out of concern that negative repercussions may damage relations between Cairo and Riyadh.

A human rights lawyer said that he was given the first 70 lashes last week and he will get 70 more this week.


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