x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Filipino attempts to raise $1 million to escape Saudi beheading

Philippine worker convicted in 2010 of murdering his Sudanese landlord over a rental dispute has been given four months to raise the money for indemnity.

MANILA // A Philippine worker condemned to death in Saudi Arabia for murder has won a four-month reprieve to raise 4 million riyals (Dh3.9m) to avoid execution.

Saudi authorities approved the stay after appeals by president Benigno Aquino and vice president Jejomar Binay to stop the scheduled November 14 beheading of Joselito Zapanta, a construction worker.

The Philippine government is now trying to help the family raise the "blood money" that must be paid to the Sudanese victim's relatives so the death sentence is commuted, the foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez said today.

Mr Binay, who also oversees the millions of Filipinos working overseas, said the government and Zapanta's family had so far raised 400,000 riyals.

"I appeal to all our countrymen, especially the private sector, let us help in whatever way we can. Miracles can happen. Maybe we will find a way or maybe they will lower the amount [demanded]," MR Binay said.

Zapanta was convicted in 2010 of murdering his Sudanese landlord in 2009 over a rental dispute and was given until November 14 to raise the money for indemnity.

Saudi law allows a person to escape the death penalty if the victim's family accepts payment of "blood money".

Saudi Arabia is a major employer of Filipinos, with 1.2 million working in the kingdom as labourers, technicians, saleswomen and maids.