Money, not death, sought in murdered nurse case
Deal would have 'compensation' going to charity
October 15, 1997
Web posted at: 10:07 a.m. EDT (1407 GMT)
In this story:
ADELAIDE, Australia (CNN) -- Australian Frank Gilford had the
right to request the death penalty in the case of two nurses
convicted in Saudi Arabia of killing his sister. On
Wednesday, Gilford said he would waive that right in exchange
for $1.7 Australian dollars ($1.24 million U.S.), with most
of the money going to charity.
The deal is allowable under Saudi law.
At a news conference in Adelaide, Gilford read from a
prepared statement on the agreement, reached after weeks of
talks between lawyers representing his family and the
He told reporters he believed British nurses Deborah Parry
and Lucille McLauchlan were guilty of murdering his sister
Yvonne in December 1996, but that he had decided to accept
what he said was compensation, not "blood money," for her
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Death sentence still possible
In September, a Saudi court found McLauchlan, 31, guilty of
playing a part in the murder and sentenced her to 500 lashes
and eight years jail. Parry, 38, awaits sentencing and,
despite Frank Gilford's decision, still faces the possibility
of the death penalty.
Gilford said it was possible Parry could now be released from
prison, but his lawyers said he had no influence over what
punishments the Saudi court might impose on either nurse.
Saudi lawyers say convicts usually spend no more than five
years in prison once the victim's family commutes the death
Under Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic law, a guilty verdict
carries a death sentence, generally by public beheading. But
the family of the victim can have the sentence commuted to a
prison term by seeking clemency, generally in exchange for
Who gets the money
News reports in Australia say the money is being paid by
British businesses that trade with Saudi Arabia. Gilford's
lawyer, Michael Abbott, said the companies had no connection
with the nurses.
The compensation package includes payment of more than
$720,000 (U.S.) to build a day surgery center at Women's and
Children's Hospital in Adelaide, to be named after Yvonne
Gilford; a cash payment in excess of $6,000 (U.S.) to
Gilford's mother, and "a nominal sum" of more than $37,000
(U.S.) to Frank Gilford.
The rest of the money would go to paying legal costs.
Theft viewed as possible motive
The body of Yvonne Gilford, 55, was discovered bludgeoned and
stabbed at the King Fahd Military Medical Center in the
eastern Saudi city of Dhahran last December.
McLauchlan and Parry reportedly were detained after they were
seen in a video store using Gilford's cash cards, indicating
that theft was a possible motive.
Gilford denied the compensation he's getting for his own
personal suffering was "blood money," but that's how one of
the lawyers defending the British nurses views it.
"He calls it compensation. Compensation for what?" asked
Salah al-Hejailan. "Compensation for the sensation, perhaps,
that has taken place as a result of the way he has responded
to this case?"
Another of the nurses' lawyers, Michael Burnett, said Parry
and McLauchlan "are very pleased to have this threat removed
but at the same time they have always maintained, and
continue to maintain, their innocence."
The nurses say a confession was beaten out of them.
Correspondent Margaret Lowrie, Reporter John Raedler and
Reuters contributed to this report.