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Man pardoned over Saudi rape case

  • Story Highlights
  • Justice Minister says lawyer in rape case did not lose licence
  • Full details of pardon read out on television
  • Man involved in case also suffered torture, according to minister
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(CNN) -- Saudi King Abdullah's letter pardoning a rape victim from 200 lashes and six months in prison for appearing in public with an unrelated male also included a pardon for the man she was with, according to the Saudi Justice Minister.

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The case cast light on the treatment of women under Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic law.

Minister of Justice Abdallah bin Mohammed al-Sheikh, in a phone call to a Saudi Television newscast Monday, also said contrary to earlier reports the woman's lawyer did not lose his license for defending her.

Until now, it was not confirmed that the male companion, who was abducted along with the 19-year-old woman last March, had also faced charges. While details of what happened to the man while the woman was raped have not been made public, the King's letter concluded that he also suffered "torture" along with her.

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The seven men convicted of kidnapping them and then raping her were ultimately sentences to lashings and prison terms of two to nine years.

Although the pardon letter has not been released to the news media, Al-Sheikh read from it in his call Monday to Saudi TV:

"After going over all the document and a thorough review of the evidence, we found that the crime committed against this woman is one of the most savage kind," it read.

"The woman and the man in her company have experienced enough torture which should be enough punishment for them and a lesson to learn from."

"Since according to the Sharia (Islamic law) clerisy, a mistake in pardon is better than a mistake in punishment, we here request the release of both of them and we ask for the continuation of all legal charges followed by a just punishment against the other accused," it read.

Al-Sheikh, in answer to a question, said reports that defense lawyer Abdulrahman al-Lahim was revoked were false. Video Watch what is known about the royal pardon »

"Such decisions are made through institutions in the Kingdom," he said. "The punishment of the lawyer or any lawyer does not come from a reaction; it comes from a carefully examined procedure within a special council in the ministry."

He said the council charged with deciding law license revocations has not issued any decisions in this case.

The attack took place in Qatif, Saudi Arabia in March 2006 when the woman was engaged to be married. Read Hala Gorani's blog about the latest developments

A Saudi court ruled the woman had an "illegitimate relationship" with a man who was not her husband, and that the assault occurred after she and the man were discovered in a "compromising situation, her clothes on the ground."

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The case has drawn international attention, provoked outrage in the West and cast light on the treatment of women under Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic law.

The woman was meeting with a man -- described by the her attorney as a former friend from whom she was retrieving a photograph -- when they both were abducted. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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