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Letter from victim's son clears Sampson of blame
Pickering MP helped out
May 17, 2003 - National Post
The eldest son of Christopher Rodway, the British engineer who was killed
in a car bombing in Riyadh in 2000, has officially forgiven the Westerners
who were convicted of the crime, including Bill Sampson, the Canadian
under death sentence in the capital of the Muslim kingdom.
"Should the high court of Saudi Arabia uphold the lower court convictions
of Mr. William Sampson; Mr. Alexander Mitchell; and Mr. Raf (Schyvens), of
the murder of my father, I hereby forgive these individuals for their
action as determined by the courts and ask that they be pardoned," wrote
Justin Rodway in the letter, a copy of which the National Post obtained.
"I'd had my suspicions all along, to be perfectly frank, that they weren't
guilty," said Mr. Rodway, 28, a Briton who manages a company that provides
support housing to adults with mental health problems.
"I think it was quite obvious to anybody really, bar the Saudis, that they
weren't guilty. So it was a straightforward decision really, if I could do
anything to help I would, it was just as simple as that. I am glad it was
there if needed."
Mr. Rodway is Christopher Rodway's eldest son from his 1st marriage. Jerry
Rodway, Christopher's father, who had said he believed in the death
penalty in such cases, died last year.
Dan McTeague, MP for the riding of Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge, confirmed
yesterday that he went to England in January to secure the pardon from Mr.
Rodway. Mr. McTeague, who met with Mr. Rodway in the restaurant of a
Holiday Inn in Bristol, paid for the visit himself.
Mr. McTeague said the Sampson case was brought to his attention by
constituents several months ago. They had begun a petition to Saudi
authorities to free the Nova Scotia-born biochemist, who has been in
custody for 29 months and was sentenced to death in a secret trial for his
alleged involvement in planting the car bomb that killed Mr. Rodway. After
consulting with experts in Saudi law, Mr. McTeague decided that the best
course of action would be to attempt to resolve the case using shariah law
and obtain a pardon from Mr. Rodway's eldest son and heir.
"I thought the case was hopeless. I thought the only way out of this was
to provide at least an honourable way out for both sides. I was trying to
do at a lower level what could not be conducted through diplomatic
channels," he said.
A similar action won the release of 2 British nurses in 1998. Lucille
McLauchlin and Deborah Parry had been convicted and sentenced to death for
the murder of a colleague at the King Fahd medical complex in Dhahran in
December, 1996. They were saved when the victim's brother agreed to accept
$1.1-million in blood money. The nurses were released by King Fahd after
spending 17 months in jail and allowed to return home.
While public execution is the mandated punishment for murder in Saudi
Arabia, the family of the victim has the right to waive punishment
altogether or ask for diya, or blood money. Mr. Rodway said he would never
have made payment of blood money a condition of the men's release.
Sheikh Salah Hejailan, the Saudi lawyer representing Bill Sampson and 6
other Westerners in detention in Riyadh, said yesterday the letter could
prove useful if the convictions against the men are upheld by the Supreme
Judicial Council. He said that while the council has reached a decision,
it has not been ratified by King Fahd.
Mr. Hejailan is hopeful, however, that a recent plea for clemency will be
successful and the men will soon be released.
"Those people are innocent, they haven't done anything and that's their
position," he said. "They have retracted their confessions. They haven't
done any of these things."
(source: National Post)
By ALLISON DUNFIELD
- Globe and Mail Update - Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2003
Sampson finally sees son in Saudi jail
The father of a man imprisoned in a Saudi jail on a charge of taking part in a bombing campaign was able to visit his son Tuesday for the first time since July, 2001.
James Sampson told CTV Newsnet via telephone from Riyadh that he saw his William for about 20 seconds on Tuesday.
However, his son, who has spent most of his time in jail in solitary confinement and is facing the death sentence in connection with the December, 2000, bombing campaign, became agitated at the sight of his father.
"Well, when I went in he was lying on a bed covered by a blanket and chained by his ankles to a bedpost," Mr. Sampson told the television station.
"He told me to leave. I said, I wasn't [going to leave]. I was there to speak to him. Then he told me again to leave and then he jumped up and out of the bed and punched me on the chest," Mr. Sampson said.
William then began to throw things at a number of Saudi officials who were also in the room, prompting them to rush out, Mr. Sampson said.
He said his son "looks better" than the last time he saw him. At that time, William Sampson was weak and emaciated.
"He's still full of spirit and spite," Mr. Sampson said.
James Sampson said there is nothing more he and his son can do but wait.
It is Mr. Sampson's fourth trip since his son was arrested more than two years ago in connection with the December, 2000, bombing in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Sampson saw his son twice during his first visit in 2001, but has had no contact since then.
The pharmaceutical engineer faces beheading in the bombing death of Briton Christopher Rodway, though Saudis have not carried out any such sentence against a Westerner in half a century.
Authorities in the strict Muslim kingdom, where alcohol is banned, contend that the bombings were part of a turf war between bootleggers.
Others point to continued bombings and say the Saudis are trying to cover up a potentially embarrassing campaign by militant fundamentalists.
A ruling on Mr. Sampson's appeal to the highest Saudi judicial body has not been reached.
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