OFW back from Saudi Arabia after being on death row for 13 years

MANILA, (PNA) –Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza is now back in the country after serving a jail term for killing a Saudi national who tried to sexually abuse him in August 2000.

“Salamat sa Diyos at naka-uwi ako ng buhay (Thank God and I am home alive,” Lanuza said after arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 via Etihad Airlines flight EY-424 which touched down at 3:20 p.m.

Lanuza was welcomed by his parents who could not believe that their son is still alive.

Lanuza said he only acted in self-defense on that fateful night and that the killing of the Saudi national was unintentional.

“Malinis ang konsiyensiya ko na wala akong kasalanan. Saksi ang Diyos na wala akong kasalanan sa kaso kong ito. So, itong pagkakapatay na ito ay disgrasya, pero hindi sinadya kumbaga self defense lang, marami din akong saksak sa katawan,(God is my witness, my conscience is clear. The death was accidental and not intentional since it was self-defense as I also sustained so many stab wounds),” he said, while showing the scars on his body as a result of the stab wounds he got from the Saudi national.

Lanuza’s ordeal started in August 2000 when he accidentally killed the Saudi national. He gave up to authorities five days after the incident.

Lanuza said he was only 22 years old when he worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and was jailed at the age of 25. He is now 38 years old.

He said that under Saudi Arabia penal system, a person who commits murder will be jailed in isolation for the first two years.

After the two years in isolation, he was then made to join other inmates.

It was during this time that he managed to have a cellular phone where he asked for help regarding his case. He also had access to the Internet while in jail wherein he also solicited help from anybody for him to be spared from the death penalty.

Lanuza was handed down the death sentence by ‘qissas’ or beheading but was pardoned upon payment of blood money amounting to 3 million Saudi Arabia Rials (SAR) or P 35 million to the victim’s family.

He was sentenced to death on June 30, 2001 and an appeal for the death sentence was filed on July 29, 2001, but was not pursued then upon the advice of elders to show humility.

Lanuza thanked all those who helped him during those trying times, particularly His Royal Highness King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia who shouldered SAR 2.3 million while the Philippine government paid the balance to complete the total amount of the blood money. He also expressed appreciation to the thousands of Filipinos and other government officials who made his coming home possible.

“Salamat sa mahal na hari ng Saudi Arabia at tinugon niya ang apila namin, sa Saudi government at tinutukan nila kaso ko, sa jail management naging parehas sa akin, kay President (Benigno) Aquino (III), kay Vice President (Jejomar) Binay, sa DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs)kay Secretary (Albert)Del Rosario, Ambassador (to Saudi Arabia Rafael)Seguis (I am grateful to the beloved king of Saudi Arabia for he answered our appeal, to the Saudi government for focusing on my case, to President Aquino, to Vice President Binay, to DFA Secretary Del Rosario, Ambassador Seguis) ,” Lanuza said.

From the airport, Lanuza went straight to their home in Sampaloc, Manila.