Nurses 'forced to confess'

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Two British nurses charged with the murder of an Australian colleague in Saudi Arabia insisted yesterday that they were forced into confessing, a legal source said. Lucille McLauchlan, 31, from Dundee, and 41-year- old Deborah Parry, from Alton in Hampshire, who deny murdering Yvonne Gilford, 55, in December, were calm as they appeared before three judges at a two-hour hearing in the city of Khobar. The source said they claimed they were forced to admit the killing after their arrest.

The women arrived in court with their feet in shackles for the second day of the hearing, dressed in traditional black Muslim robes. Although the confessions have been filed with the three judges, their lawyers said the women had withdrawn them, and one of them had retracted a statement that she had a lesbian relationship with the victim. Salah al-Hejailan, who is representing the women, said the written confessions were made without legal counsel or access to British diplomats.

If found guilty of murder, under Saudi law, the women's fate will lie with their victim's family and they could be executed. The Foreign Office said the case had been adjourned until 25 May.