March 26, 2008 / 1:23 AM / in 10 years

Day urges Saudi clemency in murder

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday as part of a Middle Eastern tour and will plead for Saudi clemency in the case of a Canadian man who has been sentenced to death.

<p>Canada's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day stands to speak in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 19, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

“We urge Saudi authorities to overturn the death sentence,” said the minister’s spokeswoman Melisa Leclerc.

“Our government is deeply disappointed at the verdict handed down by Saudi authorities.”

The case of Mohamed Kohail appeared to dominate the Saudi portion of Day’s broader tour of the region.

Kohail was convicted this month of killing a teenager in a schoolyard brawl in Jeddah in 2007. He is expected to appeal his death sentence.

The Canadian government has traditionally pleaded for clemency for all Canadians sentenced to death abroad, but last year, the Conservative government said it would not do so for prisoners handled by “democratic jurisdictions” such as the United States.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada were damaged earlier this decade over William Sampson, a Canadian who spent three years in a Saudi jail on a murder charge.

Released in 2003 after the Saudi king granted him clemency, Sampson said he had been tortured in prison. Saudi Arabia has denied this.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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