Saudis attack British over trial coverage

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The Independent Online
The Saudi government has attacked media coverage of the trial of the two nurses accused of murdering an Australian colleague.

The Saudi Ambassador to Britain, Dr Ghazi Algosaibi, said yesterday the approach of some British media to the case had been "irresponsible" and "ill-advised".

He defended his country's legal system, which, he said, would ensure a fair trial for Lucille McLauchlan, 31, and Deborah Parry, 38, accused of murdering colleague Yvonne Gilford last year.

The diplomat's attack followed a press conference on Thursday in which the families of the two women said new evidence cast doubt over alleged confessions, which the women have already retracted.

Dr Algosaibi said: "It is entirely inappropriate for anyone to make any public comment upon the trial of the defendants until the proceedings have finally determined.

"It is extremely unfortunate indeed, to the due administration of justice in Saudi Arabia, for the issues in the case to be the subject of such ill-advised publicity in the media, especially in the case which may involve issues of life and death.

"It is for the court and the court alone, and not the media to decide this case,"

Comments by the nurses' lawyers about alleged mistreatment of the pair while in jail are believed to have particularly antagonised the Saudis.

The Foreign Office declined to comment on the Saudi outburst but pointed out that throughout the case the Saudis had co-operated with requests for consular access to the women, and had allowed the vice-consul to attend the trial.

Ms Parry, from Hampshire, and Ms McLauchlan, from Dundee, could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder of Miss Gilford, 55, who was found beaten, stabbed and suffocated at the King Fahd military medical complex in Dhahran where the women worked.

Back in Saudi there was fresh hope for the nurses yesterday when it emerged that Frank Gilford, the murdered woman's brother, said he might meet the nurses' families to discuss the case.

Mr Gilford, 59, from Jamestown, South Australia, could insist on the death penalty and has resisted the families' pleas for mercy. But his lawyer, Jim Phipps, told BBC Scotland that his client may have wavered in his opposition to meeting the families. He said: "I think that Frank, at the right time and in the right circumstances might be inclined to meet them."

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