Filipino on Saudi death row wins short reprieve

Agence France-Presse
Saudi's King grants a short reprieve to laborer Joselito Zapanta, giving him 3 months to raise 'blood money'

BLOOD MONEY to save their dad. Zapanta's children appeal for 'blood money'. File photo courtesy of Migrante International

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government said Tuesday, March 12, that a Filipino who was due to be executed in Saudi Arabia this week was given an extra 3 months to raise $1 million in “blood money” to save his life.

Saudi King Abdullah granted the reprieve to laborer Joselito Zapanta, who had been sentenced to death by beheading for the 2009 murder of his Sudanese landlord.

The reprieve follows an appeal from President Benigno Aquino III.

Saudi authorities announced the extension of time on the final day that Zapanta had been given to pay the wife of his victim 4 million riyals ($1.06 million) in exchange for his life, Vice President Jejomar Binay said.

Binay, who also acts as a special envoy for the millions of Filipinos working overseas, thanked King Abdullah for his “humanitarian gesture.”

“His benevolence has given our countryman a 3-month lease on life, and his family additional time to raise the blood money,” Binay said.

Under the Saudi system, a murderer can be saved from execution if he or she pays money demanded by the victim’s family.

The victim’s wife in this case is demanding the equivalent of P43 million, but Zapanta’s family had only raised about P10 million, Binay’s office said.

Last month, a Filipino sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for killing a man he said tried to sexually abuse him walked free after a similar amount of blood money was paid to the victim’s family.

In that case, the Filipino man’s family raised the equivalent of $245,000, while the Saudi government paid another $615,000.

Roughly 9 million Filipinos work around the world, often in menial jobs yet earning much more than they could in their poverty-stricken homeland. –


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