Saudi Crime Week for 12 May 2006 (14 Rabi’ al-Thani 1427)

This week’s police blotter from The Saudi Gazette looks like the pilot for CSI: Jeddah or Law & Order: Shariah — lots of forensic investigation, fingerprints, questions of neighbors and righteous brigadiers leading the police to ferret out injustice, evil and crime (remember, there is no federalism in Saudi Arabia, and the cops are all employees of the semi-military Interior Ministry, working for the one-and-only government). Nothing much spectacular or strange here, no Pakistani expats caught illegally hauling used tires or distraught young men setting themselves on fire in the middle of the street.

So, Lieutenant Yusef Jumu’a and his partner, Ahmed Abdullah, are simply looking for the facts as the search for the culprit. After they catch him, I’m guessing they will “obtain a confession.”

1) A Bangladeshi man was arrested after murdering his employer’s wife. It seems the Bangladeshi, Mohammad Habibullah, was angry because his employer would not let him out of his contract early to return home. So, he went to see his employer, a Lebanese man named Ghassan Antoine, to try and persuade him one more time to allow him to leave. When that failed, Habibullah pulled out a big knife (a cleaver, according to the story) and attacked Antoine, seriously injuring him. Antoine’s wife intervened and Habibullah stabbed her to death. He then fled the scene.

Jeddah Police commander Brig. Misfir Al-Zahami told the Arabic daily Okaz that Habibullah sought the assistance of friends as he moved from place to place every few hours trying to avoid the police. However, they caught him, less than 12 hours after the foul deed was done.

2) A young Saudi man, named A.S., committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan in his home in the Makkah neighborhood of al-Subhi. The body was found by the young man’s father, who collapsed and was rushed to a local hospital, according to the Arabic daily Okaz.

Security from Al-Umrah Police Station under the command of Second Lt. Abdullah Al-Ahmad questioned neighbors while a forensic investigation unit lifted fingerprints and took pictures. The coroner was summoned to examine the body to rule out the possibility of foul play. Subsequently, the body was taken to King Abdul Aziz Hospital as part of the investigation.

3) Police officers north of Taif found the body of a dead African man along the side of the road. The man, who was unidentified in the Okaz report, was believed to have been hit and killed by an automobile. Officers also found a crushed mobile telephone was found next to the body. The forensic investigation unit, the coroner and Lt. Col. Gharraf Al-Sagheer, commander of the Al-Faisalia police unit, are investigating the man’s death.

4) Okay, this is odd. After a month-long search, police in Hail arrested a man suspected of stealing SR170,000 (US$45,300) worth of cable. The man was handed over to the Commission for Investigation and Prosecution (the moral equivalent of the DA) for charges and trial. No, the report did not say what kind of cable, or where it was stolen from, or even suggest why someone might steal so much. (Building their own closed-circuit teevee system? A suspension bridge? Distributing black-market electricity? Looking for metal to sell as scrap?) But that’s a lot of cable!

5) The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — otherwise known here as The Church Police — were at it again, making the streets of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia safe for decent people. In the northern border town of Ar’ar, Church Police arrested an Indian national for dealing in pornography delivered to mobile phones via Bluetooth. The Church Police also arrested a Saudi man on similar charges.

6) In Jeddah, an elderly man had a heart attack after an argument with a younger man led to a car chase. (How do these things happen?) The deceased reportedly had his heart attack while chasing the young man’s car, pulled to the side of the road, entered the young man’s license plate on his mobile phone (they’re not just for viewing very tiny pictures of naked ladies, you know). Bystanders called the police, but the older man reportedly died before they arrived.

One forensic investigation later, Jeddah police concluded the man’s death was the result of natural causes. However, they arrested the younger man anyway. A confession is likely forthcoming.

7) And while not from the official police report, an 18-car pile-up on the International Highway paralleling the Saudi-Iraqi border (eventually hooking up with the Amman-Baghdad highway somewhere in the desert of eastern Jordan) killed on Syrian national and injured 22. Civil Defense units (remember, fire brigades, not duck and cover) from Ar’ar and under the command of Col. Abdullah Al-Yusuf responded to the accident, located about 40 kilometeres east Ar’ar.

Col. Manee’ Bin Nasser Al-Hamd, head of the Northern Frontier Region’s Traffic Department, blamed the accident on bad weather and motorists who were driving too fast. When roads are bad and visibility poor, Al-Hamad said, every driver should slow down and drive on the shoulder to avoid head-on collisions. (THAT’S not in the California driver’s manual…) He appealed to all motorists to abide by the traffic rules and instructions, especially in bad weather.