Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned a rape victim who had been sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes for being alone with a man who was not related to her, a Saudi newspaper reported on Monday.
Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told Al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the "interests of the people."
"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
The victim in the case, known only as the "Girl of Qatif" after her hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia, was in a car with a man in 2006 when they were attacked and raped by seven men.
She was initially sentenced in November 2006 to several months in prison and 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man with whom she was neither related nor married, a violation of the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes.
The woman, who was 19 at the time of the rape, has said she met the man to retrieve a picture of herself from him because she had recently married.
The case sparked international outcry, especially after the court more than doubled the sentence last month to 200 lashes and six months prison in response to her appeal.