Money for murder in Saudi Arabia

Money for murder in Saudi Arabia
2 min read
05 Feb, 2015
Blog: Paying "blood money" to escape a death sentence is common in Saudi Arabia, with families of victims requesting millions of dollars in compensation.
A poster requesting contributions toward Mutairi's blood money payment [Al-Araby]

Six years ago, Awad al-Mutairi stabbed another man to death in a brawl in Saudi Arabia. A week before his execution date, $5.3m of "bloody money" was paid to the victim's family, setting Mutairi on the path to freedom.

In Saudi Arabia, where drug dealers are regularly beheaded, you can kill someone and pay their family to make the problem go away.

The sharia-based law of Saudi Arabia makes it possible to avoid execution in murder cases if the family of the victim or victims agree to waive punishment in lieu of money. Figures have reached $8m.

In Mutairi's case, a committee of members of the Mutair clan organised a campaign of events under the supervision the Saudi principality of al-Jawf. Funds were raised in Hafar al-Batin in eastern Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jeddah.

Mutairi's is one of the eight outstanding "blood money" cases in Saudi Arabia.

The target sum was reached a week before the date of execution, after a man named Majid al-Duweish stumped up the outstanding $266,000.

Mutairi's is one of the eight outstanding "blood money" cases in Saudi Arabia. But many in the country have questioned the practice, and whether such sums demanded contravene sharia.

Abdullah al-Jibreen, a professor of Islamic Jurisprudence at King Saud University, called on sharia authorities to study the issue, saying there were concerns the sums violate sharia.

He told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "The sums being asked are settlements rather than blood money. The real amount of blood money in manslaughter cases has been set at just $80,000."

He added: "We fear this could exhaust people. Religious scholars considering this matter from a sharia perspective must decide whether there are violations or not."

Jibreen also said accepting blood money was not favoured in principle. "Blood money is not desirable," he said, stressing that the idea should be to pardon without anything in return.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.