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beat Canadian, brief says
'The confessions were illegal and were obtained by coercion': Sampson tortured before confessing to bomb attacks,
defence documents allege
Bill Sampson in a school photograph from the 1980s
Michael Friscolanti and Francine Dubé - National Post Thursday, September 26, 2002
Bill Sampson, the Canadian
man sentenced to die in Saudi Arabia for allegedly
planting two car bombs, was forced to confess after police hung him upside down,
kept him awake for more than a week and threatened to harm his family, court
Police in Saudi Arabia
also slapped and punched Mr. Sampson while he was bound
in chains, even promising to free him if he confessed "to the bombings in a
manner dictated by the investigator," the documents allege.
The accusations are contained
in a confidential brief Mr. Sampson's lawyers
submitted to Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council, the court that has ultimate
authority to overturn the death sentence given to the Vancouver man in March.
The 10,000-word submission,
obtained by the National Post, is the crux of Mr.
Sampson's final appeal. Two previous appeals have been denied.
The brief's arguments
focus on a series of confessions that Mr. Sampson and five
accused wrote after their arrests in December, 2000, when they were picked up in
connection with a series of remote-control bombings that killed one person and
injured five others.
Ahmed al-Tuwaijri, the
men's lawyer, says in the submission that his clients were
repeatedly tortured and "shackled with a chain" while investigators beat
confessions out of them.
"The confessions were
illegal and were obtained by coercion and force," reads the
brief, submitted to council on July 24. "They were always antagonized and
threatened by the investigator, so they caved in for fear for their lives and so as
to avoid more physical, mental and psychological abuse."
The submission says such
investigative techniques "gives ammunition to those
who criticize the application of [Islamic law]" and "undermines the reputation of
the judicial system in Saudi Arabia."
"If all or parts of these
claims are true, and we tend to believe that most of them
are true, they are enough to dismiss the convictions that are based on the
Reynald Doiron, a spokesman
for the Department of Foreign Affairs, would not
address the alleged torture of a Canadian citizen, saying he could not comment on
a judicial matter that is under review in a foreign country.
Mr. Sampson, a 43-year-old
biochemist, had been in Riyadh since 1996 and had
been working for the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, a government agency
that provides loans to industrial ventures.
Nearly two years ago, he and five other foreigners were arrested and accused of planting two car bombs.
In January, 2001, a tired and ragged Mr. Sampson was seen on Saudi Arabian television, alongside two other Westerners, confessing to the bombings that authorities linked to a feud between alcohol bootleggers in the country's expatriate community.
Mr. Sampson and the others later recanted their confessions, saying they are scapegoats for the Saudi royal family, which is reluctant to pursue an anti-government terrorist group likely responsible for the bombings.
In the court brief, Mr. Sampson's lawyers expand on the questions surrounding the confessions, arguing that none were affirmed by Saudi judges -- a clear violation of Saudi law.
In fact, the lawyers argue, when the men appeared before the courts to declare their innocence, the judges only asked whether the men's signatures on the confessions were their own.
"No questions were asked about the content of the confessions and whether they were given voluntarily and willingly," the brief reads. "Save for sending our clients back for a short period of time, the judges paid no attention to their claim that they were coerced and tortured."
The accusations do not come as a surprise to James Sampson, Mr. Sampson's father, who suspected all along that his son was being abused and tormented by Saudi authorities.
"I knew he had been tortured," the retired Air Canada pilot said yesterday from his home in Surrey, B.C. "It's not new to me."
In May, 2001, James Sampson was transferred from his solitary jail cell to a Saudi hospital after suffering a crushed vertebra, trauma to his feet and scratches on his wrists. Saudi authorities said he had tried to commit suicide, but his family dismissed the claim.
Mr. Sampson had displayed his customary stubbornness during his confinement, refusing to bathe or dress and cursing the prophet Mohammed to his Muslim captors.
The key argument in the court submission revolves around the validity of Mr. Sampson's confession, but it also raises other questions about the investigation:
- The sentencing document that orders Mr. Sampson to be put to death "does not contain any independent or conclusive evidence" other than the confessions.
- The lead investigator only speaks Arabic, the brief alleges. "The person in charge of translation was another officer with an inferior rank who has only a rudimentary knowledge of English, which he learned in a summer course at his own expense."
- The alleged bombers were arrested at the end of 2000, but between then and July, 2002, their lawyers had no opportunity to defend them. Their first chance came with the July 24 submission after the death sentences had already been handed down.
- All hearings, from the lower court to the Court of Cassation to the Supreme Judicial Council, were held without the accused or their lawyers being notified. "[The accused] thought they were participating in some preparatory procedures that would eventually lead to trial, which they were looking forward to attending in order to clear their names and put an end to their long suffering."
- Despite repeated requests, Mr. Sampson's lawyers were denied access to investigation reports and other related documents. "We were not able to obtain any written material from our clients because they were denied access to a pen and a piece of paper to do so," the submission reads. "Whatever they wrote during our interviews with them was confiscated by the prison authorities and we have not received them yet."
- All the accused used similar wording in their confessions. "The fact that the accused did not meet each other during the whole period of investigation, which lasted more than a year and a half, raises serious questions about the credibility of the identical phrases used in their confessions," the brief reads.
- The bombings have continued since the men were arrested.
- One of the suspected bombers, a Belgian man, was allegedly told by his country's ambassador to Saudi Arabia not to retract his confession in the hope he would receive royal pardon. His testimony was then used "in order to fabricate charges against the rest of the accused," Mr. Sampson's lawyers argue.
Although the submission is openly critical of the way authorities allegedly violated Saudi laws and procedures, Mr. Sampson's lawyers stress they "do not want to point the finger at any official." In fact, they go to great lengths to point out that recent laws have been passed to ensure a transparent legal system in Saudi Arabia.
They put some of blame for the debacle on the fact that such serious crimes rarely occur in Saudi Arabia.
"So it is only natural that the security authorities lack the experience that other security agencies have; and we should not be ashamed of that," the brief says.
The brief concludes by asking the five members of the Supreme Judicial Council to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, release the accused, and "find, later on, ways to compensate" them.
A final decision has not been rendered, but Mr. Sampson's family has been told to expect an announcement by the end of the month.
Asked whether he was confident that Mr. Sampson's was getting due process -- it took Canadian authorities more than a month to confirm that he was sentenced to death -- Mr. Doiron, the Foreign Affairs spokesman, said the department is regularly in touch with Saudi authorities and is hopeful "transparency" will no longer be a problem.
According to Islamic law, if the guilty verdict stands, the victim's family may demand an execution, spare the life of the murderers, or ask for blood money in exchange for the convicted person's freedom.
The family of Christopher Rodway, who was killed in the Nov. 17 bombing, has already indicated it does not want the defendants executed.
THE LEGAL ARGUMENTS:
Excerpts from a brief to the Supreme Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia, prepared by Ahmed Othman al-Tuwaijry and Salah al-Hujailan, lawyers for imprisoned Canadian Bill Sampson:
The sentences against our clients are based on written confessions that are allegedly genuine and legal.... The judge or judges who affirmed these confessions and handed down these sentenced should have tried to uncover the flimsiness and weakness of the basis upon which these confessions were built. The confessions were illegal and were obtained by coercion and force.
The sentencing document does
not contain any independent or conclusive evidence that may convict our
clients.... Despite our constant requests to the officials in charge of the case and to high-ranking officials in the Ministry of the Interior to provide a single piece of evidence that may convict our clients, our attempts were to no avail. The investigator has nothing to say but to repeat the above-mentioned confessions.
THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
Despite the gravity and ramifications of the crimes committed in this case and ... despite the fact that all the accused in this case are foreigners who do not speak Arabic, the official in charge of the investigation and prosecution is an officer with the rank of captain who does not speak any foreign language at all. The person in charge of translation was another officer with an inferior rank who has only a rudimentary knowledge of English, which he learned in a summer course at his own expense.
LACK OF NOTICE
Though we were appointed as defence counsels for our clients in October, 2000, we have not been given any opportunity to defend them, except for this brief.... It is worth noting that this case has been tried ... without us being notified and without the knowledge of our clients, who told us countless times that they were not aware they were facing trial.
LACK OF DOCUMENTS
Despite our constant requests,
we have not had access to the investigation reports or any other related
documents.... We were not able to obtain any written material from our clients because they were denied access to a pen and a piece of paper to do so. Whatever they wrote during our interviews with them was confiscated by the prison authorities and we have not received them yet.... Our clients still do not know the content of the sentences passed against them. Moreover, even their lawyers were unable to obtain a copy of the sentencing document.
All our clients insist they
are innocent and that they were forced to give their confessions. They
confessions were extracted from them by torture. They say they were subjected to the following abuses:
1) Sleep deprivation ranging from one week to 10 continuous days. They were forced to stand up while their hands were shackled to the top of the door.
2) Sudden slapping on the face and punches to the body.
3) Their feet and hands were shackled and their bodies were hanging upside down.
4) Threats to harm relatives.
5) Promise of pardon and
quick release if they confess to the bombings in a manner dictated by the
There is a striking resemblance
between the phrases used by all the accused in their confessions, which
lack the elements that distinguish genuine and voluntary confessions, be
they written or videotaped. The fact that the accused did not meet each
other during the whole period of investigation, which lasted more than
a year and a half, raises serious questions about the credibility of the
identical phrases used in the confessions.
Speak out for Canadian captive Bill Sampson, Day urges
Sheldon Alberts, Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief - National Post Friday, September 27, 2002
OTTAWA - The Chrétien government must do more to protect Bill Sampson, a Canadian scientist on Saudi Arabia's death row, Stockwell Day, the Canadian Alliance's Foreign Affairs critic, said yesterday.
Mr. Sampson's lawyers say the Vancouver man was tortured and beaten by Saudi police before he confessed to planting two car bombs.
Mr. Day urged Canadian officials to be more vocal in their demands that Mr. Sampson, a 43-year-old biochemist, receive fair treatment from Saudi authorities as they review his conviction.
''If the torture accounts are true, then it would have to throw the entire confession into question,'' Mr. Day said in an interview. ''We want our Foreign Affairs officials to be very vigorous about following up on this.''
In a 10,000-word brief submitted to Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council, Mr. Sampson's lawyers say he was hung upside down, kept awake for more than a week, slapped, punched and bound in chains after his arrest in December, 2000, in connection with a series of remote-control car bombings in the country.
Police also threatened to
harm Mr. Sampson's family and promised to set him free if he followed
investigators' orders and confessed to the bombings, his lawyers allege.
Foreign Affairs officials
are refusing to comment on the substance of the allegations against Saudi
authorities. ''The case is still under review and as far as we are concerned, it would not be productive
to speculate on the lawyer's brief, on the deliberations of the Supreme Judicial Council, or the
timeframe of the decision,'' said Reynald Doiron, a spokesman.
But Mr. Day said Bill Graham,
Canada's Foreign Minister, needs to be more outspoken about Mr.
''Publicly, they are saying
they can't make statements about something that is in process, another
legal system,'' said Mr. Day. ''Without pointing a finger, they can be saying very clearly that we do not
in any way countenance torture anywhere, let alone with Canadians.''
After reports surfaced that
Mr. Sampson had been sentenced to death, it took Canadian diplomats
more than a month to confirm that information.
In August, Melvyn MacDonald,
the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, warned Prince Mohamed bin
Naif, the Saudi deputy minister of the interior, that his country must be more forthcoming about Mr.
Sampson's treatment in court and in jail.
''We want to make sure that
Foreign Affairs here does everything possible to make sure this guy gets
due process and a fair trial,'' said Mr. Day. ''He went two years without legal representation and got
the death sentence before he had full legal representation. So we try to be mindful of other countries'
legal systems, but he absolutely should have full recourse to due process of law.''
In January, Saudi Arabia
dismissed similar reports of jailhouse torture and forced confessions as
of an alleged anti-Saudi campaign in the Western media.
National Post Editorial - Friday, September 27, 2002
Papers filed in defence of Bill Sampson, the Canadian sentenced to death by beheading in Saudi Arabia for allegedly planting two car bombs, make for difficult reading. The documents state Mr. Sampson was subjected to gruesome tortures. He was hung upside down, kept awake for more than a week, and endured threats against his family. He was slapped, punched, and promised freedom if he confessed to the crimes, which he ultimately did in a televised broadcast. He was then tried in secret. Canadian diplomats learned of the verdict only after it was handed down.
Saudi Arabia's legal system is less just than what the West had in the Dark Ages. In this sense, it is of a piece with the country's open discrimination against religious minorities and its cruel treatment of women. But it is the torture, flogging, amputation and executions that truly set it apart from most other Third World despotisms.
The 10,000-word brief his lawyers recently submitted to Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council represent Mr. Sampson's final line of defence. But in a legal system that has been entrusted by state authorities to Wahhabite clerics -- practitioners of a particularly militant strain of fundamentalist Islam who adjudicate on the basis of a grim inventory of ancient codes and punishments -- the prospects are not promising.
Given what is at stake, namely Mr. Sampson's head, the Canadian government must review the case set out in the defence brief seriously and swiftly. It is impossible to judge Mr. Sampson's innocence or guilt on the strength of a confession obtained under torture. Our men in Riyadh should not pretend they do not know the score on Saudi "justice."
This is not the time for
diplomatic niceties. The life of a Canadian citizen is imperiled by what
evidence suggests has been a gross miscarriage of justice. Canada has played
along with the Saudi charade long enough. It is time that country's ambassador
was hauled onto the carpet and told in no uncertain terms that unless justice
is meted out to Mr. Sampson in the form of a new trial, conducted by a
standard acceptable to this country, he should pack his bags. We cannot
pretend to have friendly relations with a nation that treats the life of
a Canadian citizen with such barbarism.
Canadian awaits his fate in Saudi car bombing
Sampson case still before the courts, ambassador insists
By Josipa Petrunic STAFF REPORTER star.com News Jul. 27, 2002
Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia says the
case of William Sampson, a Vancouver man facing a possible death sentence
in connection with a car bombing that killed one person and injured five others,
is still before the courts.
Reports that Sampson has been condemned to die by beheading are
"speculation," Ambassador Melvyn MacDonald said by telephone yesterday
from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Because the Saudi judicial system works differently from Canada's, journalists
in North America have misreported Sampson's status by saying he has been
convicted in a secret court and sentenced to be executed, MacDonald said.
Saudi courts, governed by Islamic sharia law, do not issue sentences until
make a final decision on a person's guilt, he explained. In Sampson's case, an
appeal court is still hearing evidence on his behalf, so there is no "final
"This is an ongoing process," MacDonald said. "Until there is a final decision,
it's all just speculation."
Sampson, 43, was arrested in December, 2000, in connection with a car
bombing in Riyadh, which killed a Briton and injured five other people. Five
Britons and a Belgian were also arrested at the time.
Saudi officials have blamed the blast and other similar explosions on rival
gangs of Western bootleggers who make a living evading the Muslim
kingdom's strict ban on alcohol.
Sampson and some of his co-accused later appeared on Saudi television,
apparently confessing to using a remote-control device to set off the bomb.
But international rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have questioned
the validity of the confessions. Sampson and other prisoners added to that
uncertainty this year by recanting.
The case had been reviewed by three levels of judges before reaching the
supreme court. A Saudi lawyer representing Sampson, Ahmed al-Tuwaijri, said
the supreme court could ask for more evidence, dismiss the case, reduce the
sentence or send the case back to court for a retrial.
"We expect the supreme court to ask us for more clarification and in the
absence of evidence, we expect the court to dismiss the case," al-Tuwaijri told
Although Saudi courts are not open to the public, the Canadian government
"satisfied" Sampson has been treated "fairly and justly" throughout his trials,
He also said he has been given regular opportunities to see Sampson over
past few weeks to ensure his treatment has been fair, but Sampson had
refused to meet him.
Sampson was employed by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, a
government agency that provides loans to industrial ventures.
Meanwhile, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson in Ottawa said the department
do all it can to prevent Sampson's execution, should such a sentence be
handed down, The Star's Allan Thompson reports.
Reynald Doiron stressed that death sentences cannot be carried out without
approval of the king. Doiron also pointed to analyses of Saudi policy by such
organizations as Amnesty International, showing that Saudi Arabia has never
carried through with death sentences against Westerners.
Lawyer Salah al-Hujeilan, who represents one of the others charged in the
case, told Reuters he was optimistic the men would soon be released "at least
temporarily for a new investigation.
"The Belgian's confession is the only proof against them and it is a fabricated
story which he had withdrawn before changing his mind again. The
confession has no basis," he said.
July 30 - SAUDI ARABIA:
Father of Canadian facing Saudi death penalty hopes for deal on son's release
The father of a Canadian
man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia says he
is somewhat optimistic about the safety of his son and feels the Saudis
are trying to find a way out of the situation.
James Sampson's son, William,
was charged along with 6 other foreigners
for a car bombing in Saudi Arabia in November 2000 that killed another
expatriate. He was convicted by a court which recommended that he die by
beheading, but the sentence hasn't been finalized. Defence lawyers insist
he was tortured to garner a confession, which was later withdrawn. 6
Britons have also been sentenced, either to death or long prison terms.
The Saudis claim the murder
was linked to an alcohol smuggling ring, but
critics say it was a domestic terrorist attack and that the Saudis are
trying to cover it up to protect their reputation.
Melvyn MacDonald, Canada's
ambassador to Saudi Arabia, met Tuesday with
the Saudi vice-minister of the interior to discuss the case.
Foreign Affairs spokesman
Reynald Doiron said he would not be able to
release details of the report until Wednesday after MacDonald sends a
report to Ottawa.
James Sampson said that
though his son was worried while in prison, he
has been defiant.
"He's cursing them. He's throwing things at them," he said.
"All I can do is try to
support him. He won't know what's going on out
here, obviously. He may think that everyone has abandoned him. I hope he
(source: The Canadian
Visit of Saudi Prince signals better relations
Tensions remain over Sampson case, but leader agrees to open Ottawa embassy
By KIM LUNMAN
The Globe and Mail
With a report from Canadian Press
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A5
OTTAWA -- The Crown
Prince of Saudi Arabia has agreed to visit
Canada, a sign of softening in relations strained by the case of a British
Columbia man sentenced to death in a car bombing.
Crown Prince Abdullah
cancelled a trip to Canada abruptly last year in
response to what palace officials called "false statements" by Canadian
officials and newspapers about the treatment of William Sampson, a
Canadian held in a Saudi jail.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador
to Canada, Mohammed al-Hussaini, said
yesterday the Crown Prince is eager to visit Canada. "He would love to be in
Canada. He's very keen to come."
The Prince was to have
presided at the opening of the new Saudi embassy at
Sussex Drive, near the Prime Minister's residence, over a year ago. The trip
would have been the first visit to Canada of a Saudi crown prince, the
country's most important political figure. The newly constructed embassy,
built at an estimated cost of $30-million, sits empty. Interior work has been
delayed since the royal snub.
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabi's
authoritative daily newspaper, cited palace officials
as saying at the time that the cancellation "came as Canadian officials and
press were meddling in the legal and security measures of the kingdom,
which is unacceptable."
Deputy Prime Minister
John Manley, then minister of foreign affairs, angered
the Saudis last year by saying he was appalled by the handling of Mr.
The Saudi Arabia embassy
will finally be opened when Prince Abdullah visits
in the spring, Mr. al-Hussaini said. He acknowledged that the case of Mr.
Sampson has hurt diplomatic relations between the two countries. "I do hope
it will end soon."
He said Saudi Arabia's
highest judicial body is expected to render a final
decision "any time" on Mr. Sampson's appeal of his death sentence. Two
appeals have been unsuccessful.
Saudi Arabia is an
absolute monarchy where convicted criminals are flogged,
mutilated and often beheaded, and where labour unions and political parties
are banned. Human-rights groups say it usually escapes condemnation by
Canada and other countries because it is a major trading partner and oil
James Sampson, father
of the imprisoned biochemist, said from his B.C.
home yesterday he has been told to expect a verdict by Sept. 30.
Mr. Sampson has not
seen his son in more than 14 months. He said he does
not have much faith in the Saudi court system and is not optimistic about the
outcome of the appeal.
"My son said: 'I'm
a political pawn.' He was annoyed with the Saudis. He'd
been tortured, beaten and everything, and he said to me: 'I'm going to be
Mr. Sampson, 43, along
with a Briton and a Belgian working in Saudi
Arabia, was shown on Saudi television last year apparently confessing to the
bombing of a car on the streets of Riyadh, the Saudi capital. A British man
died and his wife was injured. The attack was believed to be part of a larger
Mr. Sampson and the
Briton were sentenced to death by beheading; several
others got long prison sentences for the bombings, which occurred between
November 2000 and May 2001. Other bombings have occurred since their
Saudis sentence Canadian to death
William Sampson, the Vancouver
man who has been sitting in a Saudi
Arabian prison cell for 20 months, was found guilty and sentenced to be
beheaded in a secret trial earlier this year, Canadian officials say.
Mr. Sampson, accused of
being part of a bomb plot that killed 2 other
expatriates in Saudi Arabia, has 1 last appeal, to the country's supreme
court, Reynald Doiron, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade, said yesterday.
The written appeal was
submitted on Wednesday by a lawyer representing
Mr. Sampson, 42, and 5 co-accused Britons.
Canada is also trying
diplomatic channels to spare Mr. Sampson's life,
Mr. Doiron said.
The Canadian ambassador
in Riyadh, Melvyn MacDonald, expects an audience
in the next few days with a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince
Mohammed bin Naif, who is also the deputy interior minister.
James Sampson, William's
father, said he has little faith in the strict
Islamic legal system that is in place in Saudi Arabia.
"They are a bunch of bloody
savages. As Bill says, you might as well go
to the monkey house at the zoo to plead your case," the father said in an
interview yesterday minutes after being told of the appeal by a Canadian
The death sentence was
imposed by a lower court in March. But Canada
was not notified of the trial, the verdict or the sentence until April
17, Mr. Doiron said.
Saudi officials at the
time were publicly denying reports that Mr. Sampson
and his co-accused had been secretly sentenced.
Faced with a tide of international
criticism over allegations of
human-rights abuses, the Saudi government said earlier this year that
it is reforming its legal system to make it more open.
But the Saudi government
has refused visa requests from The Globe and
Mail and other news organizations to cover the trials and appeals of Mr.
Sampson, the 5 Britons and a Belgian who is also charged in the case.
Normally, news media do
not cover the courts in his country, Saudi
Ambassador Mohammed al Hussaini said.
Moreover, this case is
"very sensitive." Public trials are a relatively
new thing "even in modern Europe," Mr. Hussaini said.
Mr. Doiron said information
coming from Saudi Arabia has been
contradictory and confusing. A news agency said the only evidence
against Mr. Sampson and the 5 Britons is the statement of the
co-accused Belgian, who was said to have confessed and to have
implicated the others in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Mr. Hussaini said he has no information along these lines.
James Sampson said he
is almost as upset with the federal government as
he is with Saudi authorities for keeping him in the dark about
developments in his son's case.
He said he thinks the
federal government is more concerned about trade
with Saudi Arabia than with the plight of Canadians in trouble in the
(Saudi Arabia has been
a major purchaser of Canadian-made military
Mr. Sampson said he was
not informed by Ottawa of his son's trial and
sentencing until yesterday. "I would have remembered April 17 [the date
Ottawa says it first learned of the sentencing] because that's Bill's
Mr. Doiron said James
Sampson may be confused and that he has been kept
informed of developments as the government becomes aware of them.
(Information on the case has been sketchy and unreliable. On April 25, a
Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said Canada had received an unconfirmed
report of the conviction and sentencing.)
William Sampson, who has
reportedly said he does not want visitors,
even his father, was seen briefly by a Canadian diplomat on March 30 at
Saudi authorities have
refused to allow Canadian diplomats to meet
privately with Mr. Sampson.
He has been held in solitary
confinement for most of the time since his
arrest in December of 2000.
Mr. Sampson has recanted
a "confession" that was broadcast on Saudi
state television early last year.
Mr. Sampson, who was working
for a Saudi development agency, and
the others were charged after a wave of bombings that killed several
Saudi authorities say
the attacks were part of a turf war between foreign
gangs of bootleggers. Alcohol is banned in the kingdom, but authorities
often turn a blind eye to private consumption by foreign workers and
James Sampson believes
his son and the others are convenient scapegoats
for the royal family, which cannot control homegrown terrorists.
He said Saudi authorities
are unwilling to believe or admit that the
antiforeigner bombings are the work of Saudis like those who hijacked
planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
in the United States on Sept. 11.
Globe & Mail)
CANADA/SAUDI ARABIA: July 2002
Lawyer for Canadian facing death in Saudi Arabia expects dismissal of case
A lawyer representing
a Vancouver man sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for
a fatal bombing says he expects the country's supreme court to dismiss the case.
William Sampson, accused
in a bombing that killed another expatriate in
Saudi Arabia, has been in jail for 20 months, with much of the legal process
in his case shrouded in secrecy.
Sampson, 42, was charged
along with 6 other foreigners in the November 2000
car bombing and was convicted last fall by a court which recommended that he
die by beheading. Five Britons have also been sentenced, either to death or
long prison terms.
Such sentences, though, have yet to be confirmed.
Ahmed al-Tuwaijri, one
of Sampson's lawyers, said no final decision has been
"There are many steps
that will precede a final settlement," al-Tuwaijri
told The Associated Press.
He said the Saudi supreme
court still needs to look into the case and it
could ask for more clarification, it could dismiss the case, it could reduce
the sentence or it could send the case back to court for a retrial.
"We expect the supreme
court to ask us for more clarification and in the
absence of evidence, we expect the court to dismiss the case," he said.
News reports have suggested
the main evidence against Sampson and the
Britons is the statement of a Belgian co-accused, who is said to have
implicated the others in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Sampson confessed to the
crime on Saudi television, but his father says that
came only after a long interrogation and torture.
James Sampson has said
his son is a scapegoat for the Saudi government,
which refuses to admit the existence of home-grown terrorism.
The Saudis claim the bombing
that killed a British man was linked to an
alcohol smuggling ring, but news reports have suggested it may have been an
anti-Western attack by Muslim extremists.
The case has crept through
the secretive Saudi judicial system with Canadian
officials left in the dark, getting their information from Sampson's
lawyers, not the Riyadh government.
"The 1st sentence was
handed down in October, confirmed in January,
reconfirmed in March, we heard it in April," said Reynald Doiron of Foreign
He said the department
is pressing the Saudis for timely information on the
"One of the purposes of
our representations is to obtain from the Saudis
that we be informed as soon as possible of the supreme court decision," he
In late April, Foreign
Affairs Minister Bill Graham said a death sentence
hadn't actually been imposed because that requires formal assent from the
royal house and that hadn't been given. The minister added, however, he was
unhappy with the "confusing" information coming out of the kingdom.
Doiron would not say if
the Canadian government shares al-Tuwaijri's
optimism about the outcome of Sampson's case.
"It's within the court
system," he said. "It's an appeal within the court
system and we cannot predict when the supreme court will have completed its
review and what its decision might be."
He said Canadian diplomats
in Riyadh will keep in touch with Saudi
Melvyn MacDonald, Canada's
ambassador to the kingdom, is to meet next week
with Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy minister in the Interior ministry, to
discuss the case.
(source: Canada Press)
From 2001 article in Saudi media: http://www.ain-al-yaqeen.com/issues/20010209/feat4en.htm
PRINCE NAIF IBN ABDUL
AZIZ ANNOUNCES THE OUTCOME OF THE INVESTIGATIONS OF
A BRITON, A CANADIAN AND A BELGIAN ARE INVOLVED IN THE INCIDENTS.
NINE OF VARIOUS NATIONALITIES ARE STILL UNDER INVESTIGATIONS IN OTHER CASES.
THE INTERIOR MINISTER: THE LEVEL OF CRIME IN SAUDI ARABIA IS LOW CONSIDERING THE
COUNTRY'S SIZE AND POPULATION GROWTH.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR ANY FOREIGN POLITICAL INTERFERENCES TO DEFEND THE
WE DO NOT ACCEPT THAT OUR COUNTRY BECOMES A TARGET FOR SUCH MEAN ACTS.
Prince Naif Ibn Abdul
Aziz, the Saudi Interior Minister, has announced the outcome of the
investigations of the explosions that took place on the 21 and 26 of the last month of Shaban.
In a statement, on
Saudi television, Prince Naif said a Briton, a Canadian and a Belgian were
in the incident, and they had confessed to their involvement in the bombings, adding that
investigations are still in progress into nine others of various nationalities. None of the suspects, he
declared, is Saudi.
Prince Naif pointed
out that the officials of the embassies of the persons involved in the
allowed to visit them.
''I would like to
reiterate that no Saudi was involved in the bombings,'' he said. "You will
notice from the
confessions that there are questions as to who is behind these bombings. I would like to assert that
the source of the explosives and many other facts is known to us but for the interest of the
investigation we decided not to reveal that now," Prince Naif said.
''Thanks to the Almighty
God, and thanks to the intensive efforts exerted by the security organs
particular, investigations department, we have been able to discover the facts, and we pray to the
Almighty God to protect our country and to keep it away from all evils.''
The first culprit,
called Alexander Hoten Grinsten Mitchell, known as ''Sandy'', a Briton
who worked at
the Armed Forces Hospital as a technician of anaesthetization, confessed that he had received orders
to carry out the bombing which took place on Friday, 17th November 2000. Alexander Mitchell saying:
''I confirm and confess that I received orders to carry out the bombing in Riyadh on 17 November.''
The bombing was carried
out against Christopher Rodway, a Briton, with the help of Dr William
Sampson, a Canadian.
''On Friday, 17th
November 2000, we headed towards the residence of Christopher at the Al
quarter in Riyadh. We hid the bomb under the driver's seat of his car,'' said Mitchell, adding: ''We
followed Christopher Rodway and his wife when they drove towards Al Orouba street until the car
exploded, and then we moved away from the scene of explosion.''
The second culprit,
William James Sampson, known as ''Bell'', is a Canadian who worked as a
marketing advisor at the Saudi Industrial Development Fund. He confessed that he had helped
Alexander Mitchell in hiding explosive material in a car owned by Christopher Rodway. He noted that
Mitchell had obtained the explosive material.
Sampson tested Schifter
by asking him first to plant a bogus bomb in the GMC Blazer parked near
car outside Al Falah Housing Complex.
''We waited for Rodway
until he drove away accompanied by his wife. I then activated the bomb,
a remote control. Afterwards, we headed south towards Al Jazeerah market. After two days, Mitchell
ordered me to carry out another bombing with the help of Raaf Schifter, a Belgian. On 22nd November,
I told Schifter to hide the explosives in the car, a GMC Blazer, which was parked outside the Al Falah
residential complex. As the bomb hidden in the car by Schifter was not real, I removed it and planted a
''I waited until the
car left the site. I followed the car until it exploded and then I moved
away from the
scene of the explosion and returned to my residence.''
The third culprit,
Raaf Karl Marya Schifter, a Belgian who worked at King Fahd National Guard
Hospital, said that Alexander Mitchell, who was involved in the first bombing, had asked him for his
help in carrying out another explosion.
He admitted that he
had heard the conversation between Mitchell and Dr Samson regarding the
blast. 'Later Mitchell told me that he needed me for the second blast,' he confessed.
''On the 22nd November,
I received the bomb from Dr William Sampson and went to the Al Falah
residential complex. I then received a telephone call from Dr William Sampson ordering me to hide the
bomb under a car that was parked to the right of my car. I carried out the order and hid the bomb
under the right-hand seat of the car,'' he said.
He said he was directed by Sampson , via telephone, on how to place the explosive in the car.
''At 10:45 am, I left
the complex and followed the targeted car, as ordered by Dr William Sampson.
The car exploded on King Abdul Aziz road. I immediately stopped my car and started to help the
injured,'' he disclosed. ''There were only one serious and three minor injuries,'' he added.
On a street map, they pointed out the locations of the victims' homes and the sites of the bombings.
Earlier, the Director
of Police in the Riyadh region had announced that the first explosion,
place on 21/8/1421AH, was directed against a car driven by a Briton who worked in a company. The
Briton was accompanied by his wife.
The explosion led to the death of the Briton after he and his wife were rushed to hospital.
The wife was slightly
injured. She was discharged from the hospital after receiving the required
The second explosion,
which happened on 26/8/1421AH, was against a car driven by two men and
woman, all British nationals, who work at a private company. They were rushed to hospital. One of
them was injured on his right leg, while the other two were slightly injured.
Prince Naif Ibn Abdul
Aziz, the Interior Minister and Head of the Supreme Information Council,
affirmed that the level of crime in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is low considering the country's size
and population growth,
Prince Naif held a
meeting with editors-in-chief of the Saudi local newspapers and magazines,
which he stressed the need for the media to exercise responsible freedom to serve the best interests
of the people and the Kingdom.
Prince Naif said press
freedom in the Kingdom is guided by the religious values, traditions and
national interests while the western media concept is based on unbridled and absolute freedom.
The Prince stated
in the meeting that the security authorities have not yet implemented the
regulations governing publications to punish some newspapers for publishing incorrect and unfounded
reports about certain crimes. Baseless reports only aim at sensationalism and chaos which upset the
"We do not prevent
anyone writing about the security matters or going to the site of a crime
photographing it, but we will not be pleased with reporting without verifying the facts from responsible
security sources," the minister said.
Prince Naif welcomed
constructive criticism based on facts and invited media criticism of agencies
the Interior Ministry and its security departments from the top to the bottom.
"Be assured that I
am not the least annoyed or sensitive to such criticism if it is supported
facts and serving the public's and the country's interests," he said.
The authorities have
to consider the public security and the sentiments of the readers whose
right is to
know the actual facts in full without sensationalism and exaggeration, the Prince added.
"We in the Interior
Ministry never ordered the general investigations department or the police
any journalist nor did I demand the information minister-he is present here- to punish a journalist
except on extremely exceptional circumstances related to the higher interests of the country," he
Prince Naif added
that he did not consider the ministry's officials to be incapable of making
The ministry has not punished anyone for what he wrote while it expected that the writings should be
objective and based on facts particularly in matters where security is involved.
The Prince explained
that the delay in public statements on some criminal incidents was because
authorities did not want such announcements to hamper the investigations while the security officials
used to arrest the perpetrators of crimes immediately after the crimes were committed.
"We admit and we don't
deny the presence of crimes in the Kingdom. We cannot guarantee the
absolute freedom of crime in the country since the phenomena is here in the world since the creation
of mankind by God. Otherwise there would not have been any rules, regulations, courts, judges and
lawyers," he said.
On the other hand,
the level of crime in the Kingdom is low considering the country's size
population growth, Prince Naif said. The Kingdom, just as any other country in the world, has been
registering an increase in the occurrence of crimes but its level is not as high as in other countries, he
Burglary and unemployment
were unheard until recent years. Things changed with the inflow of the
expat work-force and the rise in the number of university graduates. Prince Naif stressed the need for
joint and intensified efforts by the ministry, society, media, writers and educationists to help curb
crimes as well as the causes that lead to crimes.
Prince Naif urged
the editors-in-chief to give utmost attention to the public interest and
to work for the
development of the country and enhancing bonds of love and cooperation among the citizens, in
addition to preservation of the country's higher interests in line with the principles set for the
information work in the country.
Prince Naif was also
briefed by the editors-in-chief on the developments witnessed by the Saudi
with the grace of the Almighty God, and due to the support and facilities being extended to it by the
Saudi government in a manner that has enabled it to occupy a prominent place among the Arab and
international press matching with developments being witnessed by the country in various spheres.
The meeting was attended
by the Minister of Information Dr Fouad Al Farsi, advisor of the interior
minister and member of the Supreme Information Council Dr Saed Al Harethi.
Prince Naif also said
that Shariah Law will be applied on the criminals and that the Saudi government
will never abandon its general rights regarding people committing such crimes on its soil.
"There no reason for
any possibility of foreign political interference to defend the criminals.
can defend a criminal who committed a crime in another country," Prince Naif told Asharq Al-Awsat
Prince Naif reiterated
that regarding the questions as to who is behind these bombings, the source
the explosives and many other facts is known to us but for the interest of the investigation it is decided
not to reveal that now.
The Saudi Interior
Minister stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia dose not accept becoming
target for such mean acts.
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