February 9, 2010 / 11:23 AM / 10 years ago

Saudi sex braggart gets no relief in court appeal

RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi appeals court has upheld a sentence of five years in jail and 1,000 lashes for a Saudi man who bragged about his sexual exploits on television, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The court in Jeddah also confirmed a five-year travel ban for airline employee Mazen Abdul-Jawad, and sentences of two years plus 300 lashes for three friends who also appeared on the show, aired by Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC)

Officials at the court could not be reached for comment.

Abdul-Jawad, a divorced father of four, was arrested in August after discussing his premarital sexual encounters on LBC’s “In Bold Red” program.

LBC’s Western-style entertainment programs and talk shows are popular in Saudi Arabia. But it is one of the world’s most conservative countries, and many viewers were shocked by the show.

Saudi judges, who are clerics of its strict Wahhabi school of Islam, have wide latitude to issue sentences according to their interpretation of Islamic law, which critics say leads to some arbitrary rulings.

Authorities closed LBC’s offices in Saudi Arabia after the show was aired. Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is a majority shareholder in LBC.

The convicted men can appeal again to a higher court.

Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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