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The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"These television confessions come out of the blue - some are suspicious"
 real 56k

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"The case has left many unanswered questions"
 real 28k

Monday, 5 February, 2001, 18:00 GMT
Death penalty urged for 'car bombers'
Briton Alexander Mitchell confessing to bomb attack on Saudi TV
Alexander Mitchell looked nervous as he confessed
The father of a Briton killed by a car bomb in Saudi Arabia is calling for the death penalty if three men arrested over his death are convicted.

Engineer Christopher Rodway, 47, was killed and his wife Jane, 50, was injured in one of two car bombings in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last November.

Three men, including Alexander Mitchell from Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow, have been shown on Saudi television separately confessing to their alleged roles in the bombings, and could be publicly beheaded if convicted.


You can't go around blasting people to pieces and get away with it

Victim's father Jerry Rodway
Mr Rodway's father, Jerry, 69, a retired sales representative from Salisbury, said death was what the men deserved if they were proved to have killed his son.

"I have always been an advocate of the death penalty," he said.

"I know that may upset a lot of people. But I have always believed in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

"I don't necessarily want it to be as gruesome as beheading but if that's the way they do it there then so be it.

"You can't go around blasting people to pieces, no matter which country you're in, and get away with it."

Some people have raised doubts about the authenticity of the televised confessions.

'Confidence'

Mr Rodway worked at a hospital in Salisbury before moving to Saudi Arabia eight years ago to work at Riyadh Military Hospital.

He was married to Jane for 23 years and had a 15-year-old son.

Mr Mitchell was shown on Saudi television confessing to his alleged involvement, along with Canadian William Sampson, in the bombing which killed Mr Rodway on 17 November.

He said he was also involved with Mr Sampson and Belgian Raaf Schifte in the second bombing on 22 November, which injured three Britons and an Irish woman.

Motive unknown

Mr Rodway said he had confidence that the Saudi authorities would get the right men.

"I was assured by senior detectives from Scotland Yard that the Saudi authorities are very good indeed and we can fully trust them, so I was hopeful that they would come up with someone and it looks like they have."

The three men, who were shown separately, appeared nervous as they told of their roles in the car bombings.

In the broadcast a voice-over in Arabic quoted one man, identified as Mr Mitchell, as saying: "I confirm and confess that I received orders to carry out the bombing here in Riyadh which took place on 17 November."

Two months of bombs
17 Nov: Man killed, woman injured in Riyadh
22 Nov: At least three injured in Riyadh
15 Dec: Man seriously injured in Khobar, Eastern Province
14 Jan: Bomb defused without injury in Riyadh
There was no mention of who issued the orders or the bombers' motive.

William Sampson, a Canadian citizen who was born in Glasgow, and Mr Skevins were also quoted as admitting their involvement in the bombings.

Human rights groups have criticised the kingdom's judicial system.

Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said: "I would say this is the worst case affecting a European citizen I have seen anywhere in the world since I have been in this business and that's going on for a decade.

"The only clear parallel is the poor pilots paraded before Iraqi television in the Gulf War. I think that's the only case really comparable.

"Any talk now about a fair trial is a complete waste of time."

But the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, said Saudi Arabia would not bow to outside pressure in the case.

No date has been set for a trial.

Under Saudi law, a death sentence handed down by a court can be commuted if the next of kin of the murder victim agrees to pardon the convicted murder, in which case 'diya', or blood money, is paid.

British officials have said they are urgently seeking information from the Saudi authorities.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said Britain had not been warned in advance that Mr Mitchell, who was arrested in December on alcohol-related charges, had admitted to involvement in the bombings.

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05 Feb 01 | Middle East
Saudi bomb suspects may face execution
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'Shock' at Saudi bomb arrests
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Country profile: Saudi Arabia
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