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Saudi preacher accused of murdering and raping daughter released

A Saudi court has released a man who was charged with sexually assaulting and beating his five year old daughter to death
A photo shared on social media of five-year-old Luma from Saudi Arabia (Twitter)

A Saudi preacher who was charged with raping and murdering his five year old daughter in 2012 was released Wednesday on bail after a court dropped the charges.

The case of Fayhan al-Gamdi, a self-proclaimed preacher with a drug addiction past, shocked Saudi society as it emerged that his daughter, who lived with his ex wife, was burned and beaten to death using wires and hot rods. Gamdi had expressed doubts about his daughter’s virginity.

Mansour al Khunaizan, Gamdi’s lawyer, said that the court had dropped charges against his client accusing him of sexual assault after no trace of semen was found on his daughter Luma’s body. Khunaizan added that the charge of manslaughter was also dropped, and that the remaining charge was “excessive disciplining that resulted in death”- an accusation that comes under the domestic law.

The sentence was reduced to that charge, which the court of appeals upheld.

“The court of appeals has decided to release my client on bail and to refer the private laws case to a lower court to review it,” Khunaizan told Saudi daily al-Sharq.

The lawyer also cautioned media for misreporting the case and tarnishing his client’s reputation, vowing to take action should that continue.

Luma’s mother, who initially supported the death sentence for her ex husband, has instead agreed to accept the “blood money” of one million Saudi riyals as decreed by Saudi law.

“I have three other children [from a previous marriage] and a house to look after and I will need the money,” the mother said. “There is no interest for the family in the execution of my former husband.”

Gamdi was originally sentenced to eight years in prison and 800 lashes in 2013. His second wife was sentenced to ten months and 150 lashes for not reporting the torture and abuse suffered by Luma under their watch.

Khunaizan argued that there was not sufficient evidence to support the claim that Gamdi had killed his daughter.

Luma died after being in a coma for four months. She was not buried until four months later, pending the investigation and autopsy procedures.

Luma’s parents divorced when her mother, an Egyptian national, was still pregnant with her. The mother said that Gamdi turned violent and beat her up after their marriage. The court agreed that Luma would be in her mother’s custody until she turned seven, and that she was entitled to visit her father.

The last visit was supposed to last for only two weeks, but Gamdi refused to let Luma go home to her mother.

“The last words I heard from her were ‘I love you, mum, and I always pray for you,’” said her mother.

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