The brother of a slain Australian nurse risks losing $1.2 million in compensation if he doesn’t formally waive his demand for the execution of a British nurse convicted of the murder, lawyers said Monday.
The money has already been deposited in a bank account in Australia and will be given to Frank Gilford only when he issues a formal written statement, revoking his call for the death sentence on Deborah Parry, 38, read a statement from the law firm representing Parry.
She was convicted of killing Gilford’s sister, Yvonne, 55, whose bludgeoned and stabbed body was found in December in her dormitory room. The two women worked as nurses at the King Fahd Military Medical Center in the eastern city of Dhahran.
Another British nurse, Lucille McLauchlan, 31, was convicted as an accessory and faces an eight-year prison term and 500 lashes.
Under Saudi Arabia’s Islamic law, a murder victim’s closest relative has the right to demand the execution of the killers or commute the sentence to a prison term in exchange for money, called “diya.”
Gilford had initially insisted on a death penalty but later was reported to have negotiated a $1.2 million settlement with Parry’s lawyers, of which he would keep $500,000 and donate the rest to a children’s charity. Gilford has refused to confirm or deny such a deal.
The statement by Parry’s lawyers said Gilford signed a “deed of settlement” on Sept. 19, which legally obliges him to waive any death penalty that may be imposed.
But a formal death penalty waiver to the Saudi court has yet to be submitted, said the statement by the Salah al-Hejeilan law firm.
It did not say what the deadline was for Gilford to present the waiver, but warned that he stands to lose “his money and may cause the charity … to lose the money as well.”
In case Gilford doesn’t act quickly, Parry’s lawyers will petition the court to grant him no more than the financial compensation prescribed by Saudi law, $26,600.
Defense attorneys said the $1.2 million was raised by wealthy individuals and multinational companies with business interests in the Middle East.
Quoting unidentified sources close to the deal, Britain’s Independent newspaper reported Saturday that British Aerospace, that country’s largest defense contractor, was the biggest contributor.
It said the company, which is delivering 48 Tornado aircraft and a number of training jets to Saudi Arabia, refused to confirm or deny its involvement.