(3 September) The legal
case surrounding the fate of Mohammad Al-Ruwaili, the Saudi businessman reportedly abducted in
Bangkok 23 years ago, lurches toward a new chapter after his cousin testified to the Thai court
Mr. Matrouk Al-Ruwaili, 59, attended the trial at the Criminal Court on
Ratchapisek Road, Bangkok, alongside Mr. Ateeq Al-Ruwaili, the brother of the missing businessman.
Also present in the courtroom were around 20 officials from the Saudi authorities, and the 5
defendants who arrived with their lawyer.
Pol.Lt.Gen Somkid Boontanorm, Pol.Col. Sorrarak Juusanit, Pol.Col. Prapas Piyamongkol,
Pol.Lt.Col. Suradech Udomdee, and Pol.Sgt.Maj. Prasong Torrang were accused of kidnapping and
murdering Mr. Mohammad Al-Ruwaili in 1989. The 5 defendants denied the allegation.
to the judges as a witness, Mr. Matrouk said he has learned about Mr. Mohammad′s disappearance from
his sister, who told him she was on the phone with Mohammad as he was driving in Bangkok. The line was suddenly cut off, he said, and no one
could reach him afterwards.
Mr. Matrouk, who is also a brother-in-law of Mr. Mohammad, was
later cross-examined about the characters, lifestyle, and businesses of Mr. Mohammad in order to
establish possible motives of his disappearance.
Much of the trial then turned to the
question about whether Mr. Mohammad ever wore a gold ring. Previously, reports have suggested that a
gold ring worn by Mr. Mohammad has been uncovered. If its authenticity was proven, the ring would
serve as an important evidence in the case.
However, the defendants have disputed that it is
impossible that the missing businessman would have owned such ring because Islamic practice forbid
Muslim men from wearing gold jewellery.
Showing the ring to Mr. Matrouk, the prosecution
lawyer asked him whether he has seen such item. He replied that he has seen it because the Saudi
Embassy has shown it to him before, but he was not certain whether it indeed belonged to Mr.
Mr. Matrouk added that the prohibition described by the Islamic faith
(haram) does not include wearing of gold rings for men, nor does it forbid having a gold ring
Speaking to our correspondent after the trial concluded, Mr. Matrouk said the
focus on the gold ring is unnecessary because he already said he did not know whether it belonged
to Mr. Mohammad.
Why is everyone so keen on it? Mr. Matrouk said.
– the brother of Mr. Mohammad – expressed his bemusement at the debate over the ring, as it is
incredible for anyone to expect that he would know everything his brother.
We lived a long
distance from each other. We didn?t live together, and I didn?t see him 24 hours a day. I didn?t
know what he had or what he wore Mr. Ateeq said emphatically.