In a remote tiny Saudi village, a local farmer forced three sons to stand on barrels with ropes circling their necks and tied to a tree. The father then pushed the barrels away and the three were hanged.
The man waited for a few seconds before he rushed back and untied them. They were half dead but with some struggle, they survived.
The operation was not a scene from a horror movie. It was real hanging and it had been done more than once.
But why would a man do this to his own sons. The answer, as put by one of the sons, is that the act was part of punishment by a father who exercised torture, cruelty and savagery against his family for nearly 18 years.
When most of them grew up and filed an official complaint this week, police summoned the father. Instead of locking him up, they simply took his statements and released him on the grounds the sons did not specify what sort of family violence the father had practised.
Ahmed, one of the sons, says he used to watch in horror as his three brothers struggled for their life when they were hanged by their own father.
But his horror did not stop at that. He also saw his brother forcing his little daughter to stand on a rock bare-foot under the scorching sun from morning to afternoon and to keep looking straight at the sun.
The punishment was because one sheep was lost while she was attending to the livestock just outside the village.
The family of four sons, five daughters and their parents live in a remote hilltop village around 50 km east of the western province of Laith.
“My father began his violent ways nearly 18 years ago…..he loves beating and torturing his children and my mother…over the past year, he developed many torture techniques against his children,” Ahmed said, quoted by the Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq.
“All family members are farmers as my father owns a large number of sheep, camels and cow….we had to be up at 4am and work until sunrise…those who were late had been severely tortured…any one who made even a small mistake had never dreamt of being pardoned.”
Ahmed, now 20, said he had fled south after his father prevented him from pursuing studies. He then returned to his grandmother in the area and went back to school, after which he got a job and made SR70,000.
When he went to his father and asked for his pardon, his father asked for money, which Ahmed gave him.
“I told him it was time for me to marry….what he exactly said to me was ‘what makes you happy will upset me.”
Ahmed said he and other brothers went to the police this week after his father severely beat up their mother. He said she fled home and is now sheltering at her brother’s home in nearby Jeddah after being hospitalised for three days.
“Last Wednesday, I went home and took all my brothers and sisters to Makkah away from my father’s hell…we rented a small flat and are now waiting to submit a complaint to Prince Khalifa Al Faisal of Makkah…he is the man who will give us justice, protection and safety,” he said.