DFA: Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta executed in Saudi

MANILA (Updated) -- Filipino Joselito Zapanta who was convicted for the murder of a Sudanese national over a rental dispute was executed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

“We offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones for their loss,” the DFA said in a statement.

Zapanta, 35, was convicted for killing Sudanese Imam Ibrahim, with robbery, on April 13, 2010 by the Riyadh Grand Court. He was sentenced to death by beheading after the family of the victim refused to execute an Affidavit of Forgiveness or Tanazul in exchange for blood money.

Through repeated appeals from Philippine officials, Saudi authorities have agreed to bring down to SR 4 million or P44 million the blood money from the initial SR 5 million or P55 million being demanded by Zapanta’s victim. However, not enough funds were raised to pay the diyah or blood money.

Blood money is a compensation under Shariah Law that is given to the family of murder victims. Should they accept it, the family will execute an affidavit of forgiveness so that death penalty will not be carried out on the accused.

The DFA said the Philippine government has undertaken and exhausted all diplomatic and legal efforts, and extended consular and legal assistance to preserve the life of Zapanta.

“The Philippine government provided the late Mr. Zapanta all necessary assistance and ensured that his legal rights were observed throughout the whole judicial process,” the department said, adding it arranged and funded the jail visits of the Filpino’s mother and sister to the Malaz Central Prison from November 28 to December 2, 2015, and on March 8, 2013 and November 2012.

Zapanta is survived by his father, mother, sister, and two children.

The DFA said it will continue to extend assistance to Zapanta's family.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Presidential adviser on the overseas Filipino workers, in a statement, expressed his sympathy to the family of Zapanta.

Binay said that the Office of the Vice President and the DFA had exhausted all diplomatic and legal efforts, including a personal written appeal to the King of of Saudi Arabia to save Zapanta's life.

He said that they also made efforts to issue appeals for help in raising the blood money demanded by the family of the Sudanese victim.

However, Binay said that despite their best efforts and the kindness and generosity of private individuals, they were still unable to raise the SAR 4 million demanded by the family.

Foreigners, including a number of Filipinos, in the past have been executed in Saudi Arabia, which has one of the harshest punishments for crimes in the world.

“We appeal to all our nationals overseas to follow the local laws of their host countries at all times and to avoid involvement in criminal activities,” the DFA said. (PNA/Keith Calayag/Sunnex)
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