A British priest has accused Qatar of prolonging the suffering of a mother whose daughter was murdered after a night out in Doha five years ago.
Rev David Green compared New Zealand’s response to the killing of Grace Millane, a British backpacker, with the handling of the case of Lauren Patterson, 24, a teacher killed by a Qatari in 2013.
New Zealand expressed a “profound sense of regret and shame” over the apparent murder of Millane, who went missing from Auckland earlier this month, on its soil, Mr Green said.
Meanwhile, he said, Alison Patterson, Lauren’s mother and a former parishioner, had been forced into a “never-ending fight for justice” in the Gulf.
Lauren’s killer, Badr Hashim Khamis Abdallah Al Jabr, has twice been sentenced to death, in a legal saga that has forced Mrs Patterson to travel to Qatar more than 30 times to attend hearings.
In the most recent development, his death sentence was quashed and replaced with a jail term of 10 years, half of which has been served.
The lower sentence, described as “risible” by Mr Green, was imposed despite the gruesome nature of the crime. Al Jabr stabbed Lauren to death before attempting to burn her body on charcoal bricks in the desert. DNA profiling was needed to identify the remains.
“The contrast between New Zealand’s reaction for Grace Millane and Qatar’s response to Lauren could not be more different – to New Zealand’s credit and to Qatar’s great shame,” Mr Green wrote in a blog. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a heartfelt apology for Millane’s death.
“Where New Zealand has, as a nation, effectively covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes, and expressed a profound sense of regret and shame that a vibrant, travelling young British woman should ever have come to harm on their shores, Qatar does not.
“While New Zealand promises justice for a family hurting deeply and grieving for the loss of a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her, Qatar instead continues to prolong the suffering of Alison and her family.
“Constant appeals and re-trials convey to Lauren’s family and watching friends that Qatar’s overriding priority in this case is not to see justice served.”
Mr Green is a priest in Kent, England. Although Mrs Patterson has since moved to Luxembourg, he recalled how he supported the family after the murder, including conducting Lauren’s funeral.
Although Qatar rarely carries out the death penalty, he asked whether Al Jabr had been treated preferentially.
He wrote: “One wonders what sort of justice would have been served if the man who violated Lauren had not been Qatari?
Mrs Patterson has pledged to appeal against the reduced sentence handed to Al Jabr.