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Saudi authorities issue more than $1.33m in fines for illegal pilgrim trafficking

September 3, 2017 at 8:43 am

Muslim Hajj pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia [Fırat Yurdakul/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi authorities have issued more than SAR5m ($1.33m) in fines to citizens and residents for illegally transporting pilgrims without Hajj permits.

As many as 90 administrative decisions have been issued against violators with penalties ranging from fines, prison sentences, deportation, defamation and confiscation of transport, the General Directorate of Passports said on Thursday.

A total of 69 citizens and 22 residents were discovered transporting 498 pilgrims without permits into Makkah, at Shemeissi, Tanneim, Bahitah and Kar.

Authorities issued SAR5,245,000 ($1.398m) of fines, with the regular punishment SAR50,000 ($13,333.5) per pilgrim and imprisonment for up to six months followed by deportation for foreigners.

Foreign residents will also be banned for returning to the kingdom and face having their vehicle confiscated.

Saudi authorities said last week they had turned away more than 400,000 pilgrims from Makkah because they lacked a Hajj permit.