OFW Sentenced to Death in Saudi Arabia Released, Thankful for Embassy’s Relentless Work
18 April 2011- The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) earlier sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia was granted pardon and freed Sunday. His repatriation to the Philippines has been arranged by the Embassy and he is due to arrive in Manila shortly.
The Embassy is not releasing his name, in deference to the request of the OFW’s family for privacy.
The OFW was earlier sentenced to death by beheading in November 2009 by a tribunal of three judges for involvement in smuggling the illegal drug shabu into Saudi Arabia.
In February 2008, he was apprehended by Saudi law enforcement agents after receiving a postal package with shabu hidden inside. The smuggling and selling of illegal drugs in the country is a crime punishable by the death penalty
Following his arrest, the Embassy exerted utmost efforts in ensuring that his legal rights were respected during the investigation process and in trial.
Through the Embassy’s efforts, an appeal was filed on the original decision. Based on the appeal prepared by the Embassy with the assistance of counsel, two members of the tribunal reduced the earlier penalty from death penalty to 15 years imprisonment, 1500 lashes and a karama (fine) of Saudi Riyals 100,000.
Subsequently, the Embassy included the OFW’s name in the list submitted to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud for the grant of Royal Clemency. The Embassy’s efforts was favorably acted upon, and he was ordered released after serving a total of three years in detention.
Upon release, he tearfully thanked the Embassy for its relentless efforts at working for his release from prison.
He expressed gratitude to Charge d’Affaires (CDA) Ezzedin H. Tago for the Embassy’s tireless efforts on his case. Vice Consul Roussel Reyes, legal officer Jerome Friaz and interpreter Jamel Haris worked relentlessly for his release. The OFW vowed to pursue a different course in his life as a freed man with his family in the Philippines.
“His release is testament to the hard work and tireless dedication of the men and women of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh in safeguarding the welfare of every Filipino in Saudi Arabia,” CDA Tago said.
The OFW is the third Filipino sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia whose release was successfully secured by the Embassy. Earlier, Michael Roque was released from prison in February 2011, while Nonito Abono was released in November 2010. END