How Saudi Justice Is Sometimes More Merciful Than American Justice
In the field of professional executioners, the Saudi executioner has one of the more brutal reputations since he uses a sword to cut off people’s heads. This is not the clean antiseptic push-button executions of the U.S. but one where the executioner has to physically exert himself, gore splatters and the smell of blood fills the air in front of a howling mob. One can hardly imagine a more barbaric spectacle, and would imagine that the executioners must be brutal men who love killing.
‘Before an execution I give the victim’s family a chance too.’
‘I ask them if they will forgive. Sometimes this happens at literally the last minute. My thoughts and prayers are concentrated on the fact that they will forgive the criminal. I hope that they forgive him and feel joy when they do,’ he adds earnestly. Rezkallah will take it upon himself to visit the victim’s family in order to obtain a stay of execution.
‘If I get the chance, and most of the time I do, I go and ask the family to give the criminal another chance. It has worked many times and the family has forgiven the criminal at the last minute.’ He smiles for a moment, recalling one such occasion.
Following a successful stay of execution, the crowd, somewhat surprisingly given the fact that they’ve turned up to witness a brutal death, breaks into rejoicing.
‘There is clapping and cheering,’ says Rezkallah. ‘The scenes of happiness are indescribable.’
In America, this quality of mercy, permitting the victim or victim’s family to forgive transgressions is wholly absent. Horror stories include the lifetime registration as a sex-offender of the man who was convicted of the statutory rape of the woman who is now his wife, and the man facing attempted murder charges despite his victim’s adamant testimony that the shooting was an accident.
When a family does beg for clemency, the process is far more involved. Rather than the stay of execution automatically being granted, the family must go before a governor and or a board of pardons and plead for the criminal’s life. Their wishes are irrelevant. The state alone determines what is justice. The victim’s wishes need not be respected, and are often ignored.
Yes, the Saudi legal code, with capital crimes like whitchcraft, is barbaric. But it is shameful that the U.S. legal code is less accommodating of the victims’ pleas for mercy.