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Beheading of Filipino in Saudi takes everyone by surprise

/ 05:16 AM December 14, 2014
Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Vice President Jejomar Binay. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Migrant workers slammed the government on Saturday for not doing more to save a Filipino who was beheaded for murder in Saudi Arabia.

Carlito Lana was executed in Riyadh on Friday for shooting Saudi national Nasser al-Gahtani before running him over with a car, the SPA news agency reported.

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Migrante International, an advocacy group for the millions of Filipinos working overseas, condemned the execution, saying the administration of President Benigno Aquino III had failed to adequately defend Lana.

“This shows migrant rights are not protected. There is not enough legal assistance given by the Aquino government to our expatriates abroad,” said Mic Catuira, spokesperson for the group.

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“That is why Filipinos abroad go through these travesties,” he said, insisting that Lana had acted in self-defense when he killed al-Gahtani.

Catuira conceded that the execution took his group by surprise.

Charles Jose, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), likewise said that the government was not aware that Lana was due to be executed on Friday.

“We are saddened by the death of Filipino national Carlito Lana and we condole with his family for their loss,” Jose said in a text message.

Jose said the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh would assist Lana’s family in repatriating his remains. He gave no further details.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, President Aquino’s adviser on migrant workers’ affairs, said bringing home Lana’s remains could be difficult because the Saudi government does not allow the repatriation of the bodies of executed foreigners.

No prior notice

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“Few people know about this,” Binay told reporters at Clark Freeport in Pampanga on Saturday.

Even the repatriation of the bodies of Filipinos who died in accidents or were killed in violence in Saudi Arabia had been difficult in the past, Binay said, adding that successful repatriations had taken up to four months to process.

In a statement issued earlier Saturday, Binay said the Philippines was not notified about the execution of Lana because it was the practice of the Saudi government not to issue prior notice to prisoners and their embassies about the dates of their execution.

Official notices are sent after the executions, Binay said.

“I am the presidential adviser on overseas Filipinos workers’ concerns and yet even I was not notified about the execution,” Binay told reporters at the free port.

Citing initial reports from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, in his statement, Binay said Lana was taken from his cell in that city at around 9:30 a.m. on Friday and was executed at 3 p.m.

According to records at the embassy, Lana was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by beheading in 2011.

According to the embassy records, Lana found al-Ghatani a good employer and they had a good relationship. But Lana claimed that al-Ghatani was pressuring him to pray during Muslim prayer time.

Lana shot al-Ghatani, who was his employer, then tried to escape using al-Ghatani’s car. In his haste, he ran over al-Ghatani’s head.

Binay said Lana’s lawyer tried several times but failed to convince al-Ghatani’s son to meet with Lana’s mother who had a letter for him asking for forgiveness.

Shariah law

He said President Aquino also wrote a letter to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah requesting his intercession to convince al-Ghatani’s family to agree to a settlement.

But the family of al-Ghatani refused and did not issue a statement of forgiveness, which was needed under Saudi law to stop an execution.

Lana is survived by his parents and two siblings—a brother and a sister.

Under Shariah law, the next of kin of the victim would decide whether to advise the court to implement the death sentence (qisas) or if the family is willing to forgive and spare the life of the convict in consideration of blood money.

Blood money is the amount of money paid or given to the victim’s heirs for the death or injury inflicted upon the victim. It is part of the customs and laws of the Arabs and Muslims.

“The Philippine government provided the late Mr. Lana all necessary and appropriate assistance and ensured that his legal rights were observed throughout the whole judicial process,” the DFA said in a statement issued late Saturday. With reports from Jun Malig, Inquirer Central Luzon, and AFP

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TAGS: blood money, Carlito Lana, Charles Jose, Department of Foreign Affairs, Mic Catuira, migrant workers, Migrante International, Nasser al-Gahtani, Saudi Arabia, Shariah law
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