Canada

Saudi court revokes Montrealer's death sentence

Saudi Arabia's highest court has revoked the death sentence against Montrealer Mohamed Kohail, arrested after a fatal 2007 brawl, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed Saturday.

Saudi Arabia's highest court has revoked the death sentence against Montrealer Mohamed Kohail, arrested after a fatal 2007 brawl, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed Saturday.

Kohail, 24, was facing a public beheading for the death of Munzer Haraki, 19, who died after a schoolyard fight in Jeddah. But the country's Supreme Council has ordered a new trial.

"The Government of Canada has repeatedly raised the cases of Sultan and Mohamed Kohail directly with senior Saudi ministers, and this case remains a priority for our government," Cannon said in a statement.

"We will continue to actively monitor this case and provide assistance and support to the Kohail brothers and their family."

Cannon said he met the brothers’ father, Ali Kohail, in Riyadh last October and raised the issue with the Saudi human rights authorities, including the president of the country's human rights commission.

However, nothing has yet been resolved in the case of Kohail's younger brother Sultan, whose case has been bumped up from juvenile court to adult court and a possible death penalty, said Cannon spokeswoman Catherine Loubier.

Mohamed Kohail and a Jordanian friend were both sentenced to death in March 2008, for their involvement in the brawl, which apparently started over an insult to a girl.

The brothers have repeatedly said they were acting in self-defence and were not involved in inflicting the fatal injuries during the fight, which involved dozens of teenagers.

The Kohail family and the opposition Liberals have frequently criticized the Canadian government for not doing enough to intervene in the case.

However, during a visit last year to Saudi Arabia, Cannon met with the father of the man who died in the fight and raised the case at a senior level in the Saudi government.

With files from The Canadian Press

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