Press Release No. 053-2012
16 April 2012
Starting on 12 April, there have been articles quoting a thank you letter by Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, a Filipino detained in Dammam, alleging that he has been spared from death in Saudi, ending with “at last, my ordeal comes to an end”. An NGO also made a statement based on the same letter.
These circulating articles also shared on blogs have given the impression that Mr. Lanuza’s freedom is official and he will be soon freed.
After the media reports on the alleged settlement of the case, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mr. Ezzedin Tago personally called the representative of the family on 12 April and confirmed that the victim’s family have not yet received the blood money settlement nor submitted their “tanazul” (forgiveness and desistance) to the court.
Blood money not yet settled
Since the victim’s family has not yet received the blood money settlement nor made their forgiveness officially in court, the Embassy stresses that such statements are premature.
It is also not accurate that “a reconciliation team led by former Ambassador Antonio Villamor was responsible in convincing the aggrieved family to formally accept the blood money”.
The truth is that the victim’s heirs signified their willingness to accept blood money as early as 27 February 2011. With the efforts of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee and a relative of the family, Ambassador Tago (then Charge d’Affaires ad interim) and DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis met with the victim’s father and brothers in Dammam. On the advise of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee and to respect the victim’s family, this matter was not divulged to the public.
During that meeting, the heirs expressed willingness to forgive Lanuza and accept blood money. The Embassy has noted discrepancies in media reports on the exact amount. The Embassy feels it is inappropriate to discuss the amount publicly, as part of its effort to respect the wishes of the victim’s family.
As far as the Embassy is aware, the efforts to raise the full amount are still ongoing.
Settlement and Forgiveness Through Court
The Embassy also clarifies that settling the blood money must be done through the concerned court and affirmed by the concerned authorities, including the Office of the Emir.
First, the heirs must receive the full amount of blood money agreed upon for the settlement of the private rights aspect of the case. The settlement should be recorded at the court with the family executing a “tanazul” or affidavit of forgiveness and desistance.
The tanazul or forgiveness would manifest that the accused was indeed forgiven by the heirs. The case file is then forwarded to the Emir’s Office for him to issue an order for the release of a detainee.
Thus, Mr. Lanuza is not yet spared from the death sentence until the desistance is formally registered with the court, which then will forward the case to the authorities for the release order.
The Embassy reiterates that Mr. Lanuza is still in prison and the process for his release will only commence once the blood money is settled through the court.
The Embassy requests media to confirm information prior to any publication of statements as inaccurate or premature news may negatively affect the case since the heirs have yet to formally forgive Mr. Lanuza. ###