Saudi religious police acquitted in case involving the death of a man in custody

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia: A Saudi court has dropped charges against three members of the religious police and a police officer accused of involvement in the death of a man in custody, a relative said Tuesday.

Their trial was the first against the powerful force long resented for intimidating people as it enforces Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Islam.

The judge presiding over the case did not question witnesses or review the medical report spelling out how Ahmed al-Bulaiwi died shortly after his June 1 arrest by the religious police, according to Audah al-Bulaiwi, a cousin of the deceased who acted as the family representative during the trial.

“The ruling is unacceptable,” Audah al-Bulaiwi told The Associated Press. “The right of a person who walked into (jail) on his feet and left as a corpse has been lost.”

Al-Bulaiwi, a retired border patrol guard in his early 50s, was arrested in the northern city of Tabuk for being alone with a woman who was not a relative — an act considered an offense in the kingdom.

His death — and the case of a second man who also died in custody — have provoked a public outcry against the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which employs the religious police.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
, AP, via the International Herald Tribune, July 31, 2007,

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday July 31, 2007.
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