April 16, 2000 05:59am
Nine Saudi Transvestites Sentenced to Prison, Over 2,000 Lashes
(RIYADH, Saudi Arabia) -- Nine young Saudi men have each been sentenced to more than 2,000 lashes and at least five years in prison for deviant sexual behavior, a police officer said Sunday.
A court in the western city of Qunfuda on Saturday sentenced five of the men to six years in prison and 2,600 lashes. The men are to be flogged 52 times in 50 sessions, the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The four other defendants were sentenced to five years and 2,400 lashes. They are to be flogged 48 times in 50 sessions.
There will be a pause of 15 days between each of the flogging sessions.
Police started tailing the nine men after reports that they were acting strangely, the officer said. He said police found that they were dressing in women's clothes and engaging in deviant sexual behavior with each other.
He said the nine confessed to the charges.
The conservative kingdom, where women are not allowed to drive and must be covered head-to-toe in public, follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Courts routinely order hands amputated for theft, and public execution for murder, rape, sodomy and drug trafficking.
Human rights organizations have criticized those penalties. They say defendants do not receive fair trials and often do not have access to lawyers.