Saudi religious police face murder charges

Saudi religious police face murder charges
Wed Oct 2, 2013 11:58:49

Religious police in Saudi Arabia are under scrutiny and murder charges after a police patrol crashed into two brothers’ car during a hot pursuit in Riyadh last week.

Saud al-Qaws died from wounds sustained in the chase, just hours after the funeral of his brother Nasser who was killed on the spot in the September 24 incident, a third brother, Saad, said on Tuesday.

Last week, a patrol of the notorious religious police, which is charged with ensuring compliance with morality but often accused of abuses, chased the brothers before crashing into their sedan and forcing it off an overpass and onto a lower-level road.

The patrol vehicle fled the scene immediately and the reasons behind the deadly car chase still remain unknown.

Pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat said members of the religious police which is unofficially known as Mutawaa were arrested and that a probe is underway, with the judiciary having the final say in the matter.

"We will not discuss details until the investigation is over," Saad said.

"If members of the Commission (for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) or others are charged in the case, we demand penalty," he said using the official name of the police.

Saud suffered head wounds and lapsed into coma. He was pronounced dead early Tuesday following a brain haemorrhage.

The ultra-conservative kingdom this year set new limitations on the commission, saying the Mutawaa would no longer interrogate suspects or press charges, but must instead refer cases to the regular police.

But religious police continue to prevent women from driving, enforce a ban on public entertainment and force all businesses, from supermarkets to petrol stations, to close for prayers five times a day.

The September 24 deadly car chase sparked an uproar on social networks.

But hardliners like cleric Nasser al-Omar have warned that any attempt at "weakening the commission will lead to the spread of vice in the kingdom."


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