S. Arabia delays execution of 7 young men amid condemnation from rights groups

4dcc000 nic477983 S. Arabia delays execution of 7 young men amid condemnation from rights groups

Saudi King Abdullah’s eldest son ordered a one-monthpostponement on the executions that were scheduled for Tuesday,also promising a new investigation and a new trial to be carriedout, one of 200 relatives and friends of the young men who gatherednear the royal court told Reuters.The seven men were facing a firing squad, with one to bepublicly crucified for three days thereafter.According to a Saudi security official cited by AP, KingAbdullah met with families of the seven accused on Sunday and latersaid he would review the sentences.The group of seven men was arrested as part of 23-member ringfor stealing from jewelry stores in 2004 and 2005 and has spenteight years in custody.A call for help telling of threats and tortures of then-underagerobbers has sparked international reaction. One of the men to beexecuted managed to smuggle a phone into a prison cell and talk toAP, saying he was well under 18 when arrested and claiming to havebeen tortured into confessing.“I killed no one. I didn’t have weapons while robbing the store,but the police tortured me, beat me up and threatened to assault mymother to extract confessions that I had a weapon with me while Iwas only 15,” the man named Nasser al-Qahtani told AP. “We don’tdeserve death,” he added, implying that other members of theconvicted group have a similar story to tell.All the seven were between 16 and 20 at the time of arrest,according to Human Rights Watch. They reportedly released astatement to be distributed online by rights activists where theyclaimed torture, threats of violence and intimidation during thecourt trial to be used by their interrogators.On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International urgedSaudi King Abdullah and the country’s interior minister tointervene and halt the executions.“There is strong evidence suggesting that the trials of allseven men violated basic principles of the right to a fair trial,”the Human Rights Watch stated.“They have since said they were severely beaten, denied food andwater, deprived of sleep, forced to remain standing for 24 hoursand then forced to sign ‘confessions’,” Amnesty International alsosaid in a statement.Eric Goldstein, HRW’s Deputy Middle East Director said it willbe “outrageous” if the Saudi authorities proceed with executions ina statement on Tuesday.“It is high time for the Saudis to stop executing childoffenders and start observing their obligations under internationalhuman rights law,” the human rights activist added.Following the calls, Saudi authorities reportedly delayedexecutions of the seven men. The royal court of Saudi Arabia saidit will look into a request for a retrial, relatives and familyfriends of the seven convicted told Reuters. There was no immediateconfirmation of the news by Saudi authorities, nor was it clear ifsuch decision was connected with the human rights groups’efforts.According to HRW report, Saudi Arabia is one of only threecountries in the world known to have executed people for crimescommitted when they were children in the past two years.Seventeen people have already been executed this year alone inthe country whose legislation is based on a strict Islamic Sharialaw. According to the Saudi law, murder, rape, armed robbery anddrug trafficking are crimes punishable by death. Sorcery andwitchcraft also figured among the recent grounds for deathsentences in the kingdom.Varying reports say from 69 to 76 people were executed in SaudiArabia in 2012, and at least 82 the previous year.

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S. Arabia delays execution of 7 young men amid condemnation from rights groups

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