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Saudi Arabia court drops charges against police involved in detainee death

[JURIST] A Saudi Arabian court dismissed charges against three members of the country's religious police force and a police officer implicated in the death of detainee Ahmed al-Bulaiwi, a relative of the deceased said Tuesday. The religious police, also known as the mutaween [official website, in Arabic; Wikipedia backgrounder], are employed by the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice [Wikipedia backgrounder] to enforce Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islam. Members of the religious police force arrested al-Bulaiwi in June for being alone with a woman who was not his relative. Al-Bulaiwi, who works as a driver, was apparently driving the woman home at the request of her family because Saudi law prohibits women from driving. Relatives of al-Bulaiwi expressed outrage at the decision, calling it "unacceptable." AP has more.

The Saudi mutaween is infamous for its draconian enforcement of Islamic law. In 2002, members of the religious police barred firefighters from rescuing 15 school girls [BBC report] and blocked the girls from escaping a burning school because the girls were not properly covered. The high-profile incident prompted the Saudi interior minister to issue a rare public rebuke of the religious police [BBC report] for not showing "leniency" during the fire.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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