Filipino sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia freed

MANILA—A Filipino worker sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for carrying illegal drugs was granted clemency and released Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The overseas Filipino worker (OFW), whose name was not released in deference to his family’s request, was sentenced to death by beheading in November 2009 by a tribunal of three judges for involvement in smuggling shabu into Saudi Arabia.

He was apprehended in February 2008 by Saudi law enforcement agents after receiving a postal package with shabu hidden inside.

The smuggling and selling of illegal drugs in Saudi is a crime punishable by the death penalty.

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh appealed the case that led to the reduction of his sentence to 15 years imprisonment, 1500 lashes and a karama (fine) of Saudi Riyals 100,000.

The embassy later included his name on the list submitted to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, for the grant of Royal Clemency.

“The Embassy’s efforts was favorably acted upon, and he was ordered released after serving a total of three years in detention,” the DFA said in a statement.

The OFW vowed to pursue a different course in his life as a freed man with his family in the Philippines.

His repatriation to the Philippines has been arranged by the embassy and he is due to arrive in Manila shortly.

The OFW is the third Filipino sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia whose release was successfully secured by the embassy.

Earlier, Michael Roque was released from prison in February 2011, while Nonito Abono was released in November 2010.

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