TV psychic will not be beheaded for 'witchcraft', lawyer says

A Lebanese television psychic who was condemned to death for witchcraft by a Saudi court while visiting the country will not be beheaded, his lawyer said yesterday. May al-Khansa said that the Saudi ambassador in Beirut informed the Lebanese justice minister, Ibrahim Najjar, that the execution of Ali Sibat would not take place.

"He confirmed to me that there will be no execution," Ms al-Khansa said about her conversation with Mr Najjar. She refused to go into detail but said "matters are going in the right direction". "We have faith in Saudi Arabia's judicial system," she added, noting that Mr Sibat's actions are not a crime in Lebanon.

Mr Sibat is one of scores of people reported arrested every year in the kingdom on charges of practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black magic and fortune-telling, which are considered to be polytheism by the country's ultraconservative judiciary. The father of five was arrested by the Saudi religious police while making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November on charges of practicing witchcraft.

Mr Sibat, 49, made predictions on a satellite TV channel from his home in Beirut, where psychics and astrologers operate freely. According to his lawyer, he was the most popular psychic on his channel, especially among callers from the conservative Gulf. After Mecca, Mr Sibat went to Medina to pray at the Mosque of the Prophet. At his hotel, members of the religious police who enforce the kingdom's strict Islamic lifestyle spotted him and grabbed him. Earlier this week, a Saudi judicial official said the country's highest appellate court had upheld the death sentence.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP & MVC Frameworks

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing company in Belvedere ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior PHP Developer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work in a sm...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Specialist - HR Team

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders