A 23-year-old Montreal man Mohamed Kohail has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. His family is now asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene personally after all legal avenues to stop Kohail’s beheading have been exhausted.
Mr. Kohail was found guilty in the beating death of 19-year-old Munzer Al-Haraki in a schoolyard brawl in Jeddah last year. His 17-year-old brother Sultan was also found guilty. Sultan was initially sentenced to 200 lashes, but he will be retried as an adult and could also face the death penalty.
The Kohail brothers maintain their innocence and say they were being attacked in an incident involving dozens of people.
According to the Globe and Mail, Mohamed Kohail was held incommunicado and allegedly beaten for approximately six weeks. And, quite incredibly, his lawyer was not allowed to attend some sessions of his trial and was not even allowed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
This is like the justice we read about in stories set in the Dark Ages—or perhaps something out of Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights. However, Mr. Kohail’s attendance at school in Saudi Arabia indicates clearly to this writer that he willingly subjected himself to the laws and customs of that despotic medieval regime.
Mr. Kohail seems to have been shabbily treated by virtually any standard, but probably no worse than any other resident of Saudi Arabia who finds himself caught up in their uneven justice system.
In life, one makes choices and sometimes those choices lead to unforeseen consequences. Mohamed Kohail’s choice was to go to school in Saudi Arabia, a country whose laws and culture are more suited to the eighth or tenth centuries than to the twenty-first. It’s hard to swallow, but that’s life.