‘My whole back felt like it was on fire’

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

DAVID Cameron will write to Saudi rulers in a bid to stop a Bri­tish OAP be­ing lashed 350 times af­ter cops found booze in his car.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s in­ter­ven­tion was re­vealed yesterday af­ter the fam­ily of Karl An­dree, 74, made a des­per­ate plea for him to be spared from a pun­ish­ment that could KILL him.

In a grow­ing diplo­matic row, Mr Cameron is writ­ing to the Saudis over the “ex­tremely con­cern­ing case” of Mr An­dree, who was ar­rested in Au­gust last year when po­lice found bot­tles of wine in his ve­hi­cle.

He has al­ready served 12 months in Jeddah’s bru­tal Bri­man Prison – which has a rep­u­ta­tion for tor­ture and in­hu­man con­di­tions .

Mr An­dree, who worked as an oil ex­ec­u­tive in the coun­try, faces a public flog­ging – a pun­ish­ment his fam­ily fear could kill him as he is still weak from bat­tles with can­cer.

His three chil­dren, Hugh, 46, Kirsten, 45, and Si­mon, 33, urged Mr Cameron to in­ter­vene be­fore author­i­ties carry out the sen­tence.

A spokesper­son for the PM said: “We have been pro­vid­ing con­sular as­sis­tance to Mr An­dree and his fam­ily since he was first ar­rested and we have raised the case re­peat­edly in re­cent weeks.

“Given the on­go­ing con­cerns and the fact we would like to see more progress, the PM is writ­ing to the Saudis to fur­ther raise the case.”

The PM’s sud­den in­ter­ven­tion comes af­ter Mr An­dree’s fam­ily raised his plight in the media.

In 1993, Gavin Sher­rard-Smith, a com­puter ex­pert from Chel­tenham, Glocs, re­ceived 50 lashes with a bam­boo cane in a prison in Qatar.

Like in Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar bans al­co­hol and has strict pun­ish­ments in place for those caught break­ing the rules.

He was ac­cused of break­ing an al­co­hol ban while liv­ing in the cap­i­tal Doha – some­thing Mr Sher­rard-Smith, now 47, has al­ways de­nied.

De­scrib­ing his as­ton­ish­ing ac­count of how the bru­tal pun­ish­ment was car­ried out, he said: “Tues­day was pun­ish­ment day. There were 22 of us on the list and one by one we were led into the doc­tors’ clinic to be ex­am­ined.

“Fi­nally, it was my turn and they laid me on a couch, spent sev­eral min­utes dis­cussing me and, af­ter lis­ten­ing to my heart, judged me fit.

PUN­ISH­MENT: OAP Karl An­dree

“Hav­ing been searched to make sure we had no pad­ding un­der our clothes, another man and I were ush­ered into the wait­ing room.

“His name was called out first so I re­mained in the wait­ing room while he re­ceived his pun­ish­ment next door.

“I could hear the cane whoosh­ing through the air and land­ing with a thud…50 times.

“And then it was me. The room where we were beaten was lit by four strip­lights in the ceil­ing.

“It was about 12ft by 14ft of white­washed breeze­blocks, with win­dows on one side and dirty cream cur­tains hid­ing the iron se­cu­rity grilles. There was a stained car­pet cov­ered with cig­a­rette burns.

“Three po­lice­men, three doc­tors, a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer and a re­li­gious judge were sit­ting on benches and be­hind a wooden desk as I was marched in.

“They were ALL hold­ing canes – each more than a yard long and about half an inch thick.

“One fel­low pris­oner had told me he’d been hit so hard that the bam­boo cane had bro­ken – which wouldn’t be a prob­lem here as there were another EIGHT propped against the wall.

“The sen­tence of the Is­lamic court was read out and trans­lated by one of the doc­tors.

“The judge asked if I had any­thing to say and I replied only that I was in­no­cent, although I’m not sure that was trans­lated.

“Then I was told to lie face down on a rug on the floor, still wear­ing my prison uni­form.

“The lash­ing started im­me­di­ately. One, two, three – in quick suc­ces­sion.

“I buried my head into my fore­arms, grit­ted my teeth and con­cen­trated on not break­ing down.

“The man lash­ing me was the tallest and big­gest of the three po­lice­man. He was sup­posed to have a book – usu­ally the Ko­ran – un­der his arm to re­duce the swing and stop him from lift­ing the cane above his head, but OR­DEAL: Gavin Sher­rard-Smith there was no sign of it.

“Four, five, six, seven – they kept com­ing, thick and fast. At first the pain wasn’t too much and I could feel where he was hit­ting me.

“The blows were rain­ing down on my body, from the shoul­der blades to the calves, then back up again.

“But with each blow, the skin soft­ened and the pain grew and grew to the point that my whole back felt like it was on fire.

“Soon it was un­bear­able, but they kept com­ing – mostly on my left shoul­der and calf. I had to sum­mon up all my con­trol not to move.

“I didn’t re­alise the hu­man body could gen­er­ate and tol­er­ate such pain. I had never felt any­thing like it be­fore, and I hope I will never feel any­thing like it again.

“At about 20 I lost count be­cause I was in too much pain, but some­one else was count­ing each stroke out loud in Ara­bic.

“I had to grit my teeth even more and screwed up my eyes. I was de­ter­mined not to make a sound and to lie per­fectly still.

“Af­ter a while I had no idea where he was hit­ting, even though my clothes were get­ting torn. The last 10 strokes were bloody agony. I thought I was go­ing to pass out.

“Then just as quickly as it started, it was over – 30 to 40 sec­onds was all it had lasted. I was left to stag­ger to my feet and walk out.

“The first per­son I saw was the prison gover­nor, who said, ‘You are still alive then?’

A fel­low in­mate counted the marks on my back and there were scores of weals – blue and black, sur­rounded by yel­low swellings.”

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