Friday, February 1, 2013

Saudi spares Philippines death-row convict Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza

About 125 Filipinos are on death row abroad

Saudi Arabia has spared one of two Filipino men sentenced to death by beheading for separate killings, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay said Friday.

Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza is expected to walk free after more than 12 years in prison following the Saudi government's decision to pay 2.3 million rials ($614,000) in indemnity to the victim's kin, Binay announced on television.

Binay, who said he had personally lobbied for Lanuza's freedom, added the balance of the $860,000 settlement sought by the victim's kin was raised by the convict's family.

"It's already definite that he will be spared from the death penalty," Binay said on the ABS-CBN network.

The draughtsman was sentenced to death after he told a Saudi court he had knifed his Saudi employer to death in August 2000 to protect himself from assault, said labour rights monitor Gary Martinez.

"Lanuza, 39, is expected to be granted freedom by the Saudi Reconciliation Committee," Martinez, chairman of Migrante International, a migrant workers' rights group, said in a statement.

"All our efforts have not been in vain, and we attribute this mainly to (Lanuza's) fighting spirit and the collective efforts of friends, supporters and family.

"If not for these, the Philippine and Saudi governments would not have given proper attention to Dondon's case," Martinez added.

However, Binay said the Saudis are set to behead another Filipino death convict, Joselito Zapanta, shortly unless about $811,000 in blood money is paid to the kin of his Sudanese landlord who was murdered in 2009.

The construction worker won a four-month stay of execution in mid-November last year to give him more time to raise the amount.

Binay said the victim's family had since agreed to settle for less than the original amount of about $1.08 million, though the amount raised so far was still far less than the reduced amount.

Martinez told AFP about 125 Filipinos including Lanuza and Zapanta were on death row abroad.

The largest group of 75 were convicted in China for narcotics smuggling, he said.

About nine million Filipinos work overseas. Their remittances are a mainstay of an economy that has struggled to create well-paying domestic jobs.

Source: Agence France-Presse, Feb. 1, 2013


KSA Completes ‘Blood Money’ to Free Convicted Pinoy

MANILA, Philippines — The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has agreed to shoulder the unpaid balance of 2.3 million Saudi riyals of the required blood money being asked by the heirs of the murdered victim of Filipino, Rodelio Celestino Lanuza.

The announcement was made by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Manila on Thursday.

In 2001, Lanuza was convicted of killing a Saudi national, Mohammad bin Said Al-Qathani, which he claimed was an act of self-defense.

Since then, he has been incarcerated at the Dammam Central Prison in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia after being sentenced to death by a Saudi court.

The heirs of the victim have expressed willingness to forgive Lanuza and accept blood money in the amount of 3 million Saudi riyals.

The Saudi embassy said the mother of Lanuza filed earlier an appeal stating that she was able to raise an amount of 700,000 Saudi riyals and further appealing that the balance amount of 2,300,000 Saudi riyals of the required blood money being asked by the heirs of the victim be paid by the Saudi government.

The Saudi government already issued a royal directive for the payment of the balance amount “for handing over to the heirs of the victim through the concerned court.”

“The Saudi Government, after the heirs of the victim waived their right, has paid the balance of the blood money,” said the embassy.

It added that the “royal goodwill gesture” is the result of collective efforts including the coordination and cooperation between the Saudi Embassy in Manila and Vice President Jejomar C. Binay.

Source: Manila Publishing, Feb. 1, 2013