by: Abdurahman Al-Ali
The Jeddah Criminal Court acquitted a senior government official and six others in a bribery case. The accused included director of the department for government projects and four other Saudis, as well as two expatriates.
When the court session began on Sunday, the judge asked the official, defendant no. 1, whether he had anything to add in his defense prior to pronouncing judgment.
The official denied all charges leveled against him by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. He also recounted the high mental pressure that he had undergone while he was put behind bars.
“There was a time when I even attempted to commit suicide. I was an ordinary official respected by all and never had to enter a police station previously,” he told the court.
Then the judge intervened and asked the defendant whether he had accepted any gold bars that were presented to him.
The defendant vehemently denied the charge, saying: “These were baseless allegations. They put me in jail and threatened me. All my confessions were made under duress to satisfy the investigating officer.”
The defendant noted that he had filed a complaint with the prison director about the alleged misconduct and harassment.
He said, “The investigator was eager to press charges against me. Projects worth a total of SR12 billion had been implemented while I was at the helm.
“I possessed only a house and all the contractors in Jeddah know well about my honesty. The government honored me with a remuneration of SR200,000 in appreciation of my work performance and trustworthiness.”
The official’s lawyer also reiterated his client’s innocence, saying that the official did not accept any bribe.
“What he had received was consultation fee from a Qatari company. He also returned the car that he had used earlier to a water company,” he said.
The official also denied accepting five gold bars from the second defendant and a wristwatch from the third defendant.
He also rejected charges of accepting SR72,000 from the fourth defendant, SR280,000 from the fifth and sixth defendants, and perfumes from the seventh defendant.
The official also refuted charges of accepting gifts, including precious watches, from companies.
All other defendants also denied charges of involvement in bribe deals with the official. The prosecution asked the judge to reject the claims of the defendants and punish them.
All the defendants, except no. 3 who was sick, were present at the court.
This article was written by Abdurahman Al-Ali and originally published on saudigazette