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Lawyer: Slain nurse’s brother says he still supports death sentence

September 25, 1997

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) _ Relatives of a nurse murdered in Saudi Arabia have discussed a deal that would spare her convicted colleague’s life, but have not settled the matter, a family lawyer said today.

Frank Gilford still supports the execution of Deborah Parry, the British nurse sentenced to die for murdering his sister, Yvonne Gilford, lawyer Michael Abbott said. Comments from Parry’s attorney that a $1.2 million clemency deal had been struck threatened future negotiations, he said in a statement.

``There have been, over the last two weeks, ongoing discussions between the lawyers for the nurses and the lawyers for Frank Gilford and his family,″ Abbott said. ``Frank Gilford has not waived any of his rights as an heir. He maintains the position that he has had from the start.″

Abbott said details of the discussions would not be released.

Parry, 38, was convicted of intentional murder in Gilford’s December 1996 death. Under Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic law, the punishment is death, generally public beheading. But the victim’s family can have the sentence commuted to prison, usually in exchange for money.

The sentences have outraged many in Britain, with some tabloids calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene. But with trade between Britain and Saudi Arabia reaching more than $3.2 billion last year, both countries are likely to try to avoid a diplomatic crisis.

Even The Sun, which usually leads tabloid outrage when British nationals are threatened by foreigners, counseled a careful approach. In an editorial today, The Sun advised Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to use ``tact and diplomacy to appeal for clemency.″

Parry’s Saudi lawyer, Salah al-Hejailan, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Frank Gilford had signed a clemency deal under which he would not press for execution in exchange for $1.2 million. Of that, $700,000 would be donated to an Australia hospital.

The deal also had been signed by Parry and her co-defendant, 31-year-old Lucille McLauchlan, in their Saudi jail, al-Hejailan said.

McLauchlan was convicted of being an accessory to the murder and sentenced to eight years in prison and flogging.

Abbott’s statement was the first confirmation from the victim’s family that it has been negotiating. But Abbott said today that ``no discussions can continue whilst Mr. al-Hejailan persists in his unauthorized conduct.″

Yvonne Gilford was found stabbed to death in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran on Dec. 11.

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