2nd trial begins for Montreal teen charged in Saudi schoolyard death

A Montreal teen could receive a death sentence for his involvement in a deadly overseas brawl that is the subject of a second trial that began in Saudi Arabia this week.

A Montreal teen could receive a death sentence for his involvement in a deadly overseas brawl that is the subject of a second trial that began in Saudi Arabia this week.

Sultan Kohail, 17, was sentenced in April to 200 lashes and one year in prison for his part in the brawl, which left one person dead. His 23-year-old brother, Mohamed, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by beheading. He is in a Saudi prison awaiting execution.

Lawyers returned to a Jeddah court this week to push for Sultan Kohail's prosecution as an adult, arguing that his earlier youth court sentence was too lenient for the crime. The new trial, which will be conducted in front of the same judges who sentenced Mohamed, was ordered after Kohail's family appealed the earlier ruling. 

Sources told the Globe and Mail newspaper that prosecutors will seek the same penalty Kohail's older brother faces — execution. Saudi judges could rule on the case as soon as the end of the week.

"Everyone in the family is collapsing, unfortunately," said a Mahmoud Al-Ken, who was the brothers' neighbour when they lived in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux and is now the family's spokesman.

"When the 200 lashes came out last summer … we said anything was better than the death penalty. Now, we're afraid we're going to face the same fate for Sultan."

Sultan Kohail, who appeared in court Tuesday, is currently out on bail and staying at his parents rented home in Jeddah.

Al-Ken said the teen is terrified after watching his brother's fate unfold.

"It's not very pleasant," he said at his home in Montreal.

"His [Mohamed's] health condition... he lost his hair. He's 23-years-old, and I know that he's lost most of his hair."

Sultan and Mohamed Kohail were detained in January 2007 after a brawl at a Jeddah schoolyard in which an 18-year-old Syrian student died of internal injuries. A third accused, a Jordanian national, has also been sentenced to death.

The Kohails have maintained that both sons are innocent and did not receive fair trials.

Ontario MP Dan McTeague, who has worked on behalf of the family to pressure the Canadian government to intervene, said politicians must take swift action.

"I'm working as best as I can with the government to ensure that all necessary efforts are being made to spare the lives of both Canadians," he said.

The Kohail brothers grew up in Saudi Arabia but have been Canadian citizens since 2005. They lived in Montreal since 2000 and returned to Saudi Arabia in 2006.

Mohamed Kohail's death sentence was upheld by an appeals court in a verbal ruling earlier this month.

His family said he has told them someone comes to the prison cell he shares with about 100 inmates each morning to say whether or not it's his day to be executed.