Saudi man returning to home country

Cites cultural differences; agrees to return as part of his sentence for assaulting daughter

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on March 26, 2014
Khalaf Alshaek. — Telegram file photo

A Saudi Arabian man who tried to choke his daughter in St. John’s last week is no longer in this province.

Two hours after Khalaf Alshaek was sentenced in provincial court, the 56-year-old was flying back to his home country.

Leaving Canada was part of the conditions of his sentence, handed down Tuesday morning by Judge Jim Walsh.

The judge gave Alshaek six days’ time served and a year’s probation.

He must not communicate with his daughter and her Newfoundland-born husband — either directly or indirectly — as one of the conditions of his probation.

Alshaek had pleaded guilty to assaulting his 30-year-old daughter and threatening to kill her.

He was arrested Thursday night after a violent outburst when his daughter told him she wanted to marry a man from this province.

Alshaek, his daughter and the man were at at Ches’s Fish ‘n’ Chips on Freshwater Road in St. John’s. When the woman asked her father for approval to marry, Alshaek became angry and left.

What Alshaek didn’t know was that his daughter had secretly married the man three days before, but was too fearful of her father to admit it.

Shortly after the blowup at Ches’s, the family gathered at the house where they were staying on LeMarchant Road. There, Alshaek attacked his daughter three times, wrapping his hands around her neck. He said believed his daughter, who had always been quiet and shy, was being disobedient.

The daughter was left with marks on her neck and feared her father would kill her. She texted her husband, asking him to call the police, and her father was taken into custody.

When he testified, Alshaek told the judge such actions are “an acceptable form of discipline” in his country. He insisted he meant no harm, but was trying to prevent his daughter from making a mistake and shaming the family by marrying without their consent.

Alshaek — who has lived in St. John’s for the past three years — spoke in court with the help of a translator.

He said if he had known his daughter was already married, he would not have reacted the way he did. He said his actions were an attempt to prevent her from making a mistake.

He said in Saudi Arabia, it’s the parents’ duty to discipline their children if they do anything inappropriate.

Crown prosecutor Danny Murphy had recommended a three-month jail term for Alshaek, with a year’s probation.

Defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan told the judge that Alshaek came to St. John’s — with his wife and some of his 10 children — to chaperone  his daughter, who is attending Memorial University on a scholarship.

She said what his daughter did was considered disrespectful in his country, and his actions were meant as a preventative measure.

She said Alshaek has the support of the Saudi Arabian government, which provided plane tickets for him and his family.

Alshaek was emotional before proceedings Tuesday.

Walsh pointed out “the conviction will serve to protect the public,” as it will flag Alshaek if he tries to get back into the country.

As a condition of Alshaek’s departure, the judge insisted that an embassy representative be present in court to ensure he is escorted back to Saudi Arabia.

A representative was on hand Tuesday and assured the judge he would escort Alshaek part of the way, and that another representative would be with him for the rest of the three-day trip.

 

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt