LinkRIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- A Saudi court will review the case of a teenage gang rape victim sentenced to jail and flogging after she was convicted of violating the country's strict sex segregation laws, the foreign minister said Tuesday.
Known only as the "Girl from Qatif," the victim said she was a newlywed who was meeting a high school friend in his car to retrieve a picture of herself from him when the attack occurred in the eastern city of Qatif in 2006.
While she was in the car, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area where others waited, and then she was raped.
The ministry's account Saturday alleged that the woman and her lover met in his car for a tryst "in a dark place where they stayed for a while."
The girl was initially sentenced to prison and 90 lashes for being alone with a man not related to her. An appeals court then doubled the lashes to 200.
The increase in sentence received heavy coverage in the international media and prompted expressions of astonishment from the U.S. government. Canada called it "barbaric."
Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives. Also, women in Saudi Arabia are often sentenced to flogging and even death for adultery and other crimes.
The seven men convicted of gang raping the woman were given prison sentences of two to nine years.
The case has sparked rare domestic debate about the Saudi legal system, which gives judges wide discretion in sentencing and where rules of evidence are shaky and sometimes no lawyers are present.
Justice in Saudi Arabia is administered by a system of religious courts and judges appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council. Those courts and judges have complete discretion to set sentences, except in cases where Sharia outlines a punishment, such as capital crimes.
That means that no two judges would likely hand down the same sentence for similar crimes. A rapist, for instance, could receive anywhere from a light or no sentence to death, depending on the judge's discretion.