A British man has been killed after youths allegedly rammed a car into a group of friends who were cycling in Saudi Arabia.
By Andrew Alderson
Published: 8:20PM GMT 27 Feb 2010
John Currie, who worked for BAE Systems – formerly British Aerospace – is believed to have been one four cyclists who started being “cut up” by local youths in two cars on a main road on the outskirts of Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
Initially, it is understood that one of the cars clipped a cyclist causing him to fall off his bike. Then, however, one of the drivers is alleged to have turned around and deliberately ploughed his car into the cyclists.
Mr Currie, 54, a human resources worker, is said to have been smashed against the vehicle’s windscreen in the incident on Thursday, and later died from his serious injuries. His widow, Pauline, was returning to Britain this weekend.
The couple, from Chester, Cheshire, are believed to have two grown-up children. Mr Currie’s body will be flown home for a funeral service.
In the past 15 years, there have been a number of terrorist attacks on British and other western nationals in Saudi Arabia by Muslim extremists. Several westerners have been killed – and even more injured – in a series of bombs and gun attacks. Radicals are angry that US and British oil companies and their staff are operating on Saudi soil.
In one incident, Simon Cumbers, 36, an Irish freelance cameraman, was shot dead and Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent, was critically injured by apparent al-Qaeda sympathisers as they filmed in Riyadh in 2004.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) confirmed the death on Saturday. A spokesman said: “A British national, John Currie, died in a road traffic accident on Feb 25 and we were informed. We have offered consular assistance to the family.” Sources at the FCO said it would be for the Saudi authorities to determine if there was a “guilty party” involved in the incident.
BAE has also confirmed Mr Currie’s death. The company employs 4,500 staff in Saudi Arabia, including around 2,000 Britons.
A company spokesman said: “We can confirm that John Currie was a BAE Systems employee who worked for the HR team in Saudi Arabia and was involved in a road accident last week. Our thoughts and feelings are with his family and friends. The Saudi authorities are now investigating the case and it would be inappropriate for BAE Systems to comment any further.”
Company sources say that the arrest of an individual in such circumstances would not necessarily mean that criminal charges will follow. “Under Sharia law – the Muslim law – the driver is arrested even if it is an accident,” said one source. “Under Sharia law too, he may have to pay a certain amount [to the family of the victim] depending on whose fault it was.”