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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Scot tells of Saudi 'torture'
Sandy Mitchell
Mr Mitchell says he was beaten with an axe handle
A British man who faced the death sentence in Saudi Arabia after being accused of taking part in a bombing campaign claims he was tortured beyond his endurance.

Sandy Mitchell was one of six Britons and a Belgian national who were released from jail after being granted clemency by Saudi's King Fahd last month.

Speaking exclusively to the BBC's Frontline Scotland programme, Mr Mitchell, from Kirkintilloch near Glasgow, said that he suffered brutal torture when being forced to confess to a car bombing.

"When I arrived in the detention centre they told me: 'You will confess or you will go insane with what we're going to do to you.'"

Mr Mitchell said he confessed in fear of his life and was found guilty by the authorities.

I expected to be beheaded and crucified at any time - there was only one thing left to do
Sandy Mitchell
But the torture, he said, continued regardless.

In his 13 months of solitary confinement - during which time lights shone on him 24 hours a day - the panic Mr Mitchell experienced before each bout of torture made him sick and his weight dropped from 97 kilogrammes to 66 kilogrammes, he told the programme.

"This paired with the expectation I would be beheaded and crucified at any time meant there was only one thing left to do," he said.

Mr Mitchell saved up beta blockers he was given and used them to try to commit suicide "so my torturers would not have the satisfaction of killing me."

He said all visits by representatives of the British counsel were overseen by prison officers who warned him expressly not to say anything about his treatment.

"He wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, I have never heard screams like it," his sister Margaret said.

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied the accusations of torture.


Mr Mitchell was accused of being part of a turf war between Westerners involved in selling illegal alcohol in Riyadh.

He described the torture which he said led him to sign false confessions.

"The beatings started with punching, kicking and spitting and eventually progressed to hitting me with sticks," he said.

Sandy Mitchell
Saudi television showed the "confession"
"They had this axe handle and I was beaten on the soles of my feet."

The six men had spent more than two years in prison after being convicted of a series of bombings in 2000 and 2001 that left one Briton dead and several Westerners injured.

They had all maintained their innocence despite two of them confessing on film to the blasts. The confessions were later retracted.

Mr Mitchell is now considering his next moves in the fight to clear his name.

The Saudi embassy in London said the men stayed in air conditioned rooms with regular access to visitors, lawyers, exercise facilities and whatever food they asked for.

Frontline Scotland
A Tale of Torture, transmitted on 7 September, 2003

Saudis deny torture claim
17 Aug 03  |  UK
Saudi bomb Scot 'not a priority'
15 May 03  |  Scotland
Timeline: British 'bombs' case
14 May 03  |  Middle East

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