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UN experts urge Saudi Arabia to halt executions

UN experts urge Saudi Arabia to halt executions on spying, spreading Shia faith charges

GENEVA (15 March 2018) – UN experts* have expressed concern over the imminent execution in Saudi Arabia of a man convicted of spying for Iran, financing terrorism and spreading the Shia faith, and called on the Government to annul the death sentence.

The experts also called on Saudi authorities to halt the executions of 14 others charged with spying for Iran.

Abbas Haiji A. Al-Hassan and the 14 others were sentenced in December 2016 by the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. The death sentences were upheld by further court rulings in July and December 2017. The case of Mr. Al-Hassan was later transferred to the Presidency of State Security. His sentence is currently subject to ratification by the King.

“We are concerned that these individuals were subjected to torture during their interrogation to obtain confessions and that the death sentences may be based on evidence obtained under these conditions,” the experts said.

“We are further concerned about the physical and mental integrity of the 15 individuals following allegations of torture and about the subsequent denial of adequate medical attention by prison authorities.”

According to reports, the 15 individuals have been held in incommunicado detention for up to three months, their defence lawyers were not given access to evidence and had insufficient time to prepare their defence.

“The individuals should be retried under conditions where fair trial and due process guarantees are met,” the experts said.

Furthermore, the experts added, the death sentences were for offences that did not appear to meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’ as required by international law for offences carrying capital punishment.

The experts called on the Government to establish a moratorium on the death penalty, and consider its complete abolition.


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