She’d originally been sentenced to 90 lashes for the crime of being in a car with a man to whom she wasn’t related prior to being attacked and gang-raped 14 times by a group of seven. Why the new sentence on appeal?

For complaining, that’s why.

The General Court in Qatif yesterday doubled the number of lashes for a rape victim as well as jail terms for her assaulters. In its verdict, the court also suspended the victim’s lawyer from defending her…

The Appeals Court sentenced the victim to 200 lashes and six months in prison. The seven rapists had their sentences increased to between two and nine years. The verdict came in as a shock to everybody.

A source at the Qatif General Court said that the judges had informed the rape victim that the reason behind doubling her punishment was “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

The curious thing about the Saudis is that they make no bones about their reasoning. When Iran executes gays, they pay nominal respect to the west’s disgust by trumping up some other charge as a pretext for the sentence. Here you have the royal family’s own house organ, the Arab News, not only reporting on the barbarity but exposing the court’s corrupt motive for elevating the sentence. Which makes me wonder what sort of internal political game is being played here. The royals have never been quite the Wahhabi nutjobs that the Saudi clerics are, but each tolerates the other in exchange for a relatively free hand. It may be that Abdullah is afraid of antagonizing them by reversing the sentence outright, but not afraid of trying to turn popular opinion against them by publicizing the story. Or am I giving him way too much credit?