Thursday, October 30, 2008

November 19, 2007

OFW saved from death row in Saudi comes home
11/19/2007 05:34 PM

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(Updated) A Filipino worker convicted in Saudi Arabia for the fatal stabbing of a Pakistani in October 2004 came back home Monday night.Ronilo Arandia, 46, arrived at 6:15 p.m. via Saudia SV flight 860 from Jeddah. He had served time in prison, according to Claro Cristobal, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Arandia, alias Adelino Yawar, was among six convicted OFWs in Saudi whose death sentences were downgraded to jail terms early this year through representations of the Philippine government.

He hails from Cavite.Arandia, an employee of a royal household in Saudi Arabia, was charged for the October 23, 2004 killing of co-worker Jameel Abdul Rahman, a Pakistani national. Both were working at the Taif King Khaled Palace prior to the incident.He was arrested the same night and was brought to the Al Salamah Police Station for initial investigation, then transferred to Taif General Prison. He was convicted and was meted out a death sentence.

The Philippine consulate in Jeddah sought the assistance of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March 2005 to obtain the names and address of the next of kin of the victim in Pakistan. In June of the same year, a co-worker of Arandia informed the consulate that their office has contacted the victim’s family in Pakistan and showed interest in settling case out of court with the payment of “blood money."

On September 20, 2005, Arandia’s wife Corazon visited him in the prison, accompanied by a team from the Philippine consulate. During the visit, Corazon met Kemin Khan Zurqan, uncle and representative of the victim’s family, and discussed the possible settlement of the private rights of the case.

The uncle suggested that Mrs. Arandia meet the victim’s family in Pakistan. But the meeting was later deferred due to the refusal of the victim’s family to meet her, and instead asked the representative of the Pakistan Embassy to negotiate with Arandia’s kin on their behalf.On February 21, 2006, the Philippine consulate received a fax message about the successful negotiations led by representative from the Pakistan Embassy and the tribal authorities in Chakdara, Pakistan.

A copy of the Affidavit of Forgiveness issued by the family was also sent.On March 15, 2006, Consul General Pendosina Lomondot informed the director of the Taif General Prison that the heirs of the victim have already accepted the amount of SR 200, 000 (equivalent to P2.3 million) as blood money and have executed an Affidavit of Forgiveness in favor of Arandia.

With the private aspect of the case settled, the imposition of the capital punishment was waived and Arandia’s death sentence was downgraded to five years imprisonment, reckoned from the date of detention on October 21, 2004 to October 21, 2009 to serve the public aspect of the case.

But with the strong representation of Consul General Lomondot, who requested the Saudi Authorities for royal clemency, the request was finally granted following the Ramadan period and Arandia was set free on Nov. 14 and moved to the Briman Deportation Center in Jeddah three days later.

Lomondot immediately requested for Arandia’s immediate deportation.Lomondot sent the Philippine government’s gratitude to the Saudi authorities for their compassion to the Filipinos. - Ronald Concha, GMANews.TV


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