A Singapore court sentenced a Saudi Arabian diplomat to 26 months in jail and four strokes of the cane for sexually assaulting a female employee at a high-end Sentosa resort. Saudi diplomat Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani was found guilty of the charges of aggravated molestation and of using criminal force.
Singapore District Judge Lee Poh Choo threw out the diplomat's contention that there was conspiracy behind the allegation and that the victim was part of an extortion scheme. "The accused preyed on a young, naive victim ... He knew and intended his actions," the judge observed.
Alzahrani, who works in Saudi Arabia's Beijing embassy, will appeal the conviction and claimed he was innocent. There has been no official comment from the Saudi Arabian authorities over the conviction of the envoy and the corporal punishment awarded to him. Singapore hands punishments like caning to sexual offenders and drug convicts.
Obviously Alzahrani has got no concessions owing to his status and he had no diplomatic immunity as he was not attached to the diplomatic corps of Saudi Arabia in Singapore. "For his culture and a person of his position, this has been deeply, deeply embarrassing," Alzahrani's attorney Sashi Nathan said, according to the Straits Times.
The 39-year-old diplomat was vacationing in Singapore last year along with his wife and three children when the incident took place. While saying at the luxury resort on the Sentosa island, the diplomat accosted the 20-year-old female intern and sexually molested her. He was accused of grabbing the woman and kissing her on the neck and face. He also forced himself on her and placed her hands on his groin, the court heard.
There were no witnesses to the crime but the court concluded after an 8-day trial that Alzahrani was clearly guilty. The court said the statement by the victim was reliable and credible. The court heard that the diplomat told the victim that what happened between them was "secret" and warned her against letting others know.
However, the hotel staff informed the police after the girl told them of the attack, a move which got fulsome praise from the court. "It was painful to remember everything in so [much] detail... [she] was put through the trauma of recalling and talking about the incident which had been haunting her and she wanted to forget," the court said.
The prosecution sought 27 months in jail and two strokes of the cane while he defence pleaded for 25 months in jail and a fine for the assault. Alzahrani was released on a $20,000 fine until the appeal is heard.