The prominent Saudi cleric accused of raping and torturing his 5-year-old daughter to death may not be released from prison as quickly as many believed.
Earlier this month, Digital Journal reported Fayhan al-Ghamdi, a prominent Islamic television preacher in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in November for the brutal rape and torture of his 5-year-old daughter, Lama. Al-Ghamdi admitted to using a cane to beat the young girl, as well as shocking her with an electric cable because he "doubted her virginity". Lama suffered several broken bones, including a fractured skull and died of her injuries on October 22, 2012.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that Saudi media officials stated al-Ghamdi would be released from prison after agreeing to pay $50,000 in "blood money" to Lama's mother. The judge in the case reportedly said:
“Blood money and the time the defendant had served in prison since Lama's death suffices as punishment.”
News of judge's decision and al-Ghamdi's pending release after serving only a few months in jail drew criticism from child and human rights organizations world wide. It also sparked outrage from many within Saudi Arabia, with some calling for his execution. However, under Saudi law a father cannot be executed for murdering his children.
According to The Independent, the Saudi royal family has intervened in the case, with a source close to the royal family saying they were "stung" by the international outrage the case has caused. Following that announcement, the Saudi Justice Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday saying al-Ghamdi is still in prison and the case against him continues, with an official telling The Times:
“The royal court is now looking at the case. He [Al-Ghamdi] will stay in prison for a long time.”