Sunday 18 March 2018

Murderer of Irish journalist sentenced to death

Simon Cumbers
Simon Cumbers

Sam Griffin

The killer of Irish journalist and cameraman Simon Cumbers, who was shot dead while filming a report on terrorism in Saudi Arabia in 2004, has been sentenced to death.

A Saudi court yesterday held a short hearing in Riyadh where Adil Sa'ad Al-Dubayti Al Mutayri, as well as two other defendants, were accused of the crimes of murder and declaring war against the state.

The sentence, which is subject to appeal, was last night criticised by Amnesty International executive director Colm O'Gorman, who said the organisation condemns the "death penalty in all cases".

Mr Cumbers (36), from Navan in Co Meath, worked for various news organisations including ITN and Channel 4 during his career and also set up his own production company with his wife Louise Bevan.

It was during filming in the Riyadh suburb of Al-Suwadi on a programme about terrorist organisation Al Qaeda in 2004 that he was attacked by gunmen, along with his colleague Frank Gardner from the BBC.

Mr Cumbers, who worked throughout the world, was killed in the attack while Mr Gardner was seriously injured and suffered paralysis.

One year after his death, the Simon Cumbers Media Fund was set up by Irish Aid - an arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - in conjunction with the late journalist's family.

The aim of the fund is to assist and promote more and better quality media coverage of development issues in the Irish media. Two rounds of funding are allocated every year - one in summer, and one in winter.

Last night, a spokesperson for the department said the fund had already helped around 40 journalists in promoting the issue of overseas development in Ireland and said it was a lasting legacy for Mr Cumbers and his family.

"This was something that was set up with this family. Both his mother and his wife are on the judging panel of the Simon Cumbers fund.

"They're both directly involved in his memory and in his legacy so they both have involvement," the spokesperson said.

"They're very engaged with it and they take a keen interest in that his memory is continued in a public way through the fund."

Mr O'Gorman said Mr Cumbers had committed much of his work to highlighting problems in the developing world and to promoting human rights.


"Simon Cumbers was an extraordinary journalist who did tremendously important work and the award that was set up allowed for an awful lot of fine journalism work in Ireland has been supported by that fund", he said.

"On the question of the death penalty, Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases.

"Equally we seek justice for victims and their families of crimes including that for victims of homicide."

The Simon Cumber fund did not wish to comment on the sentencing when contacted last night.

However the Meath native's parents Bronagh and Robert had previously called on the Saudi Arabian authorities not to execute their son's killers.

"Simon was a pacifist, someone who would not have wanted the death penalty and would have opposed it.

"We do not want this man to be executed if he is found guilty,' Robert Cumbers said.

They previously criticised Saudi Arabia for making it difficult to bring Simon's body home to Ireland following his death 10 years ago.

Irish Independent

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