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Saudi Arabia

Military Justice

The administration of justice in the armed forces was regulated by the Code of Military Justice, decreed and published by the minister of defense in 1947. It was applicable to all members of the armed forces, all retired personnel, and civilians working for the armed forces who committed crimes or offenses of a military nature or in violation of military regulations. Military trial courts operating under the authority of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation had jurisdiction over personnel subject to the code. Crimes in violation of the sharia, however, were under the jurisdiction of sharia courts.

A military trial court consisted of officers who had to be senior to the defendant if an officer were to be tried. The court included a president and four other voting members, plus a legal adviser, an attorney representing the government, and an attorney representing the accused. Trial procedures were direct and uncomplicated, and trials were conducted in a manner intended to protect the rights of the accused. The burden of proof was on the government. A case was brought to trial only after a thorough and impartial investigation, after which a complete report of the alleged crime or incident was submitted to the military commander having jurisdiction, who then could recommend either trial or dismissal of charges. The court's decision could be invalidated or a sentence commuted by the minister of defense and aviation or the king for irregularities, omissions, evidence of prejudice, or evidence that pressure had been brought to bear. The king and the minister had sole power of review of sentences imposed by military trial courts, and, subject to their concurrence, the judgments of the courts were final.

Punishable offenses under the Code of Military Justice were classified as felonies, misdemeanors, or disobediences. Felonies and misdemeanors were subject to trial, and upon conviction a defendant could be sentenced to severe punishment or to disciplinary punishment as prescribed by the court. Disobediences were less serious offenses and were punishable administratively.

Felonies punishable under the military code included high treason against the kingdom and disloyalty to the king or to the armed forces. Severe punishments were prescribed for those found guilty of such crimes. Military misdemeanors meriting the imposition of disciplinary punishment included such acts as misbehavior that brought discredit on the armed forces, misuse of authority, misuse of military funds or equipment, agitation to leave the service, and violation of military regulations and directives. Disciplinary punishments ranged from forfeitures of pay and allowances for from one to three months to imprisonment for up to eighteen months. Disobedience and failure to obey orders were punished administratively. Punishments, which ranged from forfeiture of one day's pay and imprisonment for twenty-four hours to imprisonment for forty-five days, were scaled according to the seriousness of the offense as prescribed in the Code of Military Justice.

Data as of December 1992