Saudi mosque imam acquitted of sexual harassment charges

January 12, 2022

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

MAKKAH — A court in the Makkah region issued a ruling acquitting a mosque imam of charges of sexually harassing his domestic maid.

The court rejected the case on the ground that the plaintiff failed to prove the charges with substantial evidence. The Court of Appeal finally upheld the ruling and gave its final approval, according to the verdict, a copy of which is seen by Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

The Public Prosecution referred the case to the court after carrying out investigation into the complaint of harassment filed against the mosque imam, who is a Saudi citizen.

In a historic verdict, a Saudi court recently sentenced a man convicted of sexual harassment to naming and shaming in public, in addition to a prison term and a fine.

The Criminal Court in Madinah sentenced Yasser Muslim Al-Arawi to eight months in prison and a fine amounting to SR5,000 for harassing a woman using obscene remarks.

This was the first verdict issued by a Saudi court to name and shame a culprit in a sexual harassment case after the Council of Ministers approved a law that called for publicly revealing the identity of individuals found guilty of sexual harassment.

In January 2021, the Council of Ministers added a new paragraph to Article 6 of the Kingdom’s Anti-Harassment Law, stating that the judgment in sexual harassment case shall be summarized in local newspapers at the expense of the convicted person.

Lawyer Saleh Al-Ghamdi, a former member of the Public Prosecution, said that the Anti-Harassment Law, which was approved in May 2018, consists of seven articles, and its Article 6 was amended with adding paragraph 3 according to a royal decree issued in January 2021.

The amendment read as follows: “It is permissible to include the sentence issued determining the penalties referred to in this article and to publish its summary at the expense of the convicted person in one or more local newspapers, or in any other appropriate means, according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society, and this will be after issuance of the final verdict in the case.”

He noted that the text of Paragraph 1 of Article 6 stipulates that whoever commits a crime of harassment shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding SR100,000 or one of these two penalties. The penalty will be applicable to male and female convicts.

On her part, lawyer Kholoud Al-Ahmadi said that Article 1 of the Law defines the crime of harassment as any statement, act or sign with a sexual connotation from the part of a person towards any other person and that is through touches body or honor, or infringes modesty, by any means, including through various means of modern technology.

Criminal courts are responsible for issuing penalties for crimes of harassment after referring the case by the Public Prosecution, she pointed out.

January 12, 2022
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