Wednesday 18 March 2009 (22 Rabi` al-Awwal 1430)

      'My pardon is a miracle,' remarks Saudi woman who murdered abusive husband
      Hayat Al-Ghamdi I Arab News
      JAZAN: A 55-year-old Saudi woman from the village of Jalah, south of 
Jazan, has been in prison for more than four years. Originally waiting 
execution for murdering her abusive husband who she married when she was 13, 
she was granted a royal pardon substituting capital punishment with a five-year 
prison term, which is to end in seven months.

      "My pardon is a miracle from Almighty Allah that I never expected, 
especially after my 11 children demanded I be executed," the woman, known by 
her initials M.H., told Arab News in an interview at Jazan General Prison.

      Under Shariah law, children cannot demand the execution of their parents 
for murder. It was on this basis that M.H. was granted a royal pardon. M.H. 
looks old and weak. She attributes this not only to her time in prison but to 
the difficulties she faced during her marriage with her late husband.

      M.H. is pleased that she was pardoned, not because it saved her from 
execution but because she would finally be able to see her children who have 
stopped visiting her. "I wanted to be executed to be purged from my sin and to 
meet Allah with a clean record," she said.

      M.H. was initially hesitant to tell her story. However, after a few 
minutes of gentle persuasion she agreed. Looking sad, she explained the run up 
to the day when she killed her husband.

      "It was a Thursday in the month of Shawwal 1426H (November 2005). I was 
sitting outside my home when a car suddenly pulled up. Inside were my son 
Khaled and another man, who turned out to be my brother whom I had not seen for 
many years and who I thought was long dead," said M.H.

      "My brother immediately grabbed my hand and slapped me in the face three 
times. He was shouting, calling me a 'whore' and saying he would discipline me 
for mistreating my husband. My son Khaled repeated what his uncle said and my 
other son Abdullah, who is a teacher, said I deserved what was happening to me 
and threatened to put me in a sack and take me to a mental hospital," she added.

      M.H.'s brother and sons gave her an ultimatum: Correct her behavior or 
they would take her to hospital on Saturday. "After that, they hugged each 
other congratulating themselves on a job well done. I came inside looking for a 
rifle, which I found, but it had no ammunition. When my husband saw me looking 
for the rifle he said I would not use it," she said.

      "He told me I was only bluffing and that I was a liar. He said I had been 
giving him empty threats for more than six years," she added. "I swallowed the 
humiliation, but kept something in my mind. That was the end of it, I said to 
myself, remembering that he had repeatedly beaten me, even breaking my arm 

      Speaking about the day she shot her husband dead, M.H. said, "It was 
Friday, Shawwal 9, 1426AH (Nov. 11, 2006). I got up early to pray Fajr (morning 
prayers). I woke my husband up. He was sleeping on a separate bed in the same 
room. He refused to get up and sarcastically told me to pray that Allah 
forgives my sins."

      M.H. said that after a short while, when the sun rose, she opened the 
windows and looked at some shepherds grazing her sheep and cattle. "My husband 
was looking at me and suddenly asked me which of these men I desired the most. 
I told him they are all good but it was he who I loved. That comment of his was 
the straw that broke the camel's back. I grabbed the rifle, loaded it and shot 
him. One bullet hit his neck, the second his chest, the third hit him in the 
stomach and the fourth ripped his back," she said.

      "He fell down dead soaked in blood. My children arrived. I threw the 
rifle away and went to the police station where I admitted killing him."

      MH said she has no regrets killing her husband who mistreated her and 
spread rumors that she hated him and was not treating him as a husband. "Our 
problems started about eight years earlier. He claimed that I no longer gave 
him his legitimate rights as a husband. This despite the fact that we slept 
together, even on the Tuesday before I killed him," she said. She said she was 
relieved to be rid of him and was not remorseful. "I do not think of him. I do 
not even see him in my dreams. My only worries are my children who stopped 
visiting me about a year ago," she added.

      A mother of six boys and five daughters, MH said all of her sons are 
educated and that two of them are married. None of the girls are educated. She 
said her husband worked as a school guard for 14 years, and farmed and grazed 
cattle before that.

      "He has no relatives ... we are not related. He only had some half 
brothers and hardly had any communication with them," she said. MH said she 
felt happy talking to Arab News, the first time she had been interviewed by the 
press. She concluded the interview with a smile and requested her picture be 
taken but the prison authorities refused.

      Riza Saran, a female prison guard who also attended the interview, said 
HM was quiet and had a strong personality. She said she was the only prisoner 
who did not need psychological help.

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