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Tue 26 Aug 2014 11:47 AM

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Saudi Arabia withdraws Thai diplomat over court decision

Thai court acquitted five police officers accused of murdering a Saudi businessman

Saudi Arabia withdraws Thai diplomat over court decision

Saudi Arabia has reportedly recalled its most senior diplomat to Thailand after a court acquitted five police officers of the abduction and murder of a Saudi businessman in 1990.

The decision also was made after Saudi Arabia learned the brother of one of the suspects would be appointed to the National Legislative Assembly as a member of Thailand’s new government, Bangkok Post reported.

Saudi Arabia and Thailand have had soured relations since the murder of four Saudi diplomats in 1989 and 1990 and the disappearance of Al Ruwaili in 1990.

Riyadh downgraded diplomatic ties at the time and is yet to fully restore them.

The diplomat withdrawn was the charge de affaires of the Saudi embassy in Bangkok, Abdulelah Al Sheaiby.

He was recalled in mid-July but the quiet decision has only been made public by Thai media in recent days.

Thailand's acting foreign minister Sihasak Phuangket-keow said on Monday he “respects and understands” Saudi Arabia’s decision to recall its head of mission but assured Riyadh it was making every effort to solve the murder of Al Ruwaili, Asia One reported.

Expressing regret over the decision, Sihasak requested Saudi Arabia use diplomatic channels to convey its dissatisfaction over the issue.

"It would be regrettable if the withdrawal of the diplomat led to a further downgrade of relations," he said.

Prosecutors and Al Ruwaili’s family have filed an appeal against the police officers’ acquittal, according to Bangkok Post.

The Criminal Court had ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict the men but the prosecutor argues the court did not allow a key witness, rejected a ring that was presented as evidence implicating the defendants, and abruptly changed the presiding judge before the court's ruling, Bangkok Post reported.

The Appeals Court is yet to set a date for the hearing.

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