Saudi Court Sentences Canadian, Jordanian to Death for Alleged Murder of Syrian Man

A Saudi court has sentenced a Canadian and a Jordanian to death for the alleged murder of a Syrian man during a school yard fight last year, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

The defense plans to appeal the ruling, which was handed down by a court in the western port city of Jiddah on Monday, said the lawyer, Ahmed al-Awadhi.

Al-Awadhi identified the men as Canadian national Muhammed Kohail, 22, and Jordanian national Muhanna Masoud, 21.

"We're deeply disappointed at the verdict handed down by Saudi authorities," Canadian Embassy spokeswoman Andrea Meyer told The Associated Press.

An official at the Jordanian Embassy said the mission had not been informed that a Jordanian has been sentenced to death.

Al-Awadhi, an assistant to the men's main defense lawyer, insisted the defendants were innocent.

He said Kohail had gone to the school to pick up his younger brother, when a group of young men started harassing the brother. A scuffle ensued during which one of the men, Munther al-Haraki, died, al-Awadhi said.

"The coroner's report clearly stated there was no evidence that a sharp instrument or weapon was used. It also said al-Haraki had heart problems," said al-Awadhi, who declined to elaborate.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of murder, drug trafficking, rape and armed robbery can be executed, usually with a sword. Twenty-nine people have been executed in the kingdom so far this year.