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Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a gang-rape victim whose sentencing to 200 lashes by a Saudi court provoked an international outcry, a Saudi newspaper reported on Monday.
The daily al-Jazirah cited Justice Minister Abdullah bin Mohammad al-Sheikh as saying the king had the right to issue pardons if it was in the public interest.
The minister did not confirm if the amnesty, reported from unnamed sources, was correct.
The Saudi monarch usually issues pardons to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival which begins on Wednesday, but such announcements are published on the official Saudi Press Agency.
The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman was abducted and raped along with a male companion by seven men last year in a case that has drawn criticism from around the world.
Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes for being alone with an unrelated man and the rapists to prison terms of up to five years.
The Supreme Judicial Council last month increased the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison and ordered the rapists to serve between two years and nine years in prison. (Reuters)
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