Saudi diplomat gets 26 months and one week in jail, 4 strokes of the cane in hotel molest case

Saudi Arabian diplomat Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani leaving the State Courts on Feb 3, 2017.
Saudi Arabian diplomat Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani leaving the State Courts on Feb 3, 2017.ST PHOTO
Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani, 39, was convicted on Wednesday (Feb 1) of wrongfully restraining a young intern while molesting her twice and of using criminal force on her.
Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani, 39, was convicted on Wednesday (Feb 1) of wrongfully restraining a young intern while molesting her twice and of using criminal force on her. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Saudi Arabian diplomat who was convicted of twice molesting a young hotel intern and using criminal force on her was sentenced to 26 months and one week in jail and four strokes of the cane on Friday (Feb 3).

Bander Yahya A. Alzahrani, who is attached to the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Beijing, is appealing against his conviction and sentence and $20,000 bail was allowed.

He has not left Singapore after his arrest as his passport has been impounded as part of bail conditions.

The 39-year-old father of three was on holiday here with his family when the offences were committed at a hotel in Sentosa on Aug 14 last year.

He was found guilty on Wednesday (Feb 1), after an eight-day trial, of kissing the 20-year-old intern on her neck and face and groping her while hugging her in the bathroom of the hotel room.

 

He was also found guilty of similarly kissing and groping her a seond time while causing wrongful restraint to her; as welll as forcing her to touch him.

District Judge Lee Poh Choo sentenced him to 26 months' jail and two strokes of the cane on each molestation charge, and one week for the criminal force charge. One of the molestation sentences and the criminal force sentence will run consecutively.

In her oral grounds, the district judge had found the victim to be "unusually convincing" and had no motive to falsely implicate Alzahrani.

She rejected the defence assertion that the whole incident was a set-up and that the victim conspired with other staff to bring those false allegations against him to extort money from him.

The victim had in fact been reluctant to divulge anything as she was "confused" and did not know what to do. She had said to a colleague, who had noticed the victim's distress and unusual behaviour, that the guest had told her this was a "top secret" between them.

Cajoled for hours by her colleagues, the victim eventually told and demonstrated her version of events to various persons, including the front office manager and a security executive, at different times that day.

The maximum penalty for aggravated molestation is between two and 10 years plus caning on each charge. For using criminal force, the maximum penalty is three months' jail and a $1,500 fine.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Kenny Yang and April Phang had asked for 27 months' jail and two strokes of the cane while the defence asked for the minimum 24 months' jail and one stroke for each molestation charge.

For using criminal force, the prosecution asked for two weeks' jail while the defence asked for a fine.