LETTER : Crime and punishment: Islamic law versus Western values

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From Mr Richard Sockett

Sir: Your focus on the appalling violation of human rights under the Saudi judicial system, with its mockery of accepted legal norms, offers another shameful reminder of just how far Western governments can sacrifice moral scruples for economic greed.

Yet apart from the escalating numbers reported by Robert Fisk (9 October), none of this makes surprising reading if we consider successive Amnesty reports and, as you make clear, sources independent of our own government. But here, alas, is where your suggestions for a solution appear well-intentioned but vastly optimistic.

Your leading article, commendable in many respects, ultimately hinges on a principled view of Western motivation which at present is unlikely to be shared by the Foreign Office, less still by the regime in Riyadh. Privately, neither would be under any illusion about exactly why we dispatched 500,000 troops to defend Saudi "freedom", and any threat to abandon them to Saddam - together with their oilfields - would be laughed out of court, even under that judiciary. Worst of all, they'd be right.

Yours faithfully

Richard Sockett

London, N22

9 October