Saudis to crucify student who attended protest rally

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LONDON: A young Saudi Arabian man is facing crucifixion after beheading for attending an anti-government protest in 2012, when he was 17.

A court in Jeddah passed the sentence on Ali al-Nimr, now 21, last May. All appeals processes have been exhausted, and the sentence is expected to be carried out within days after being upheld by the Supreme Court this week. Crucifixion in Saudi Arabia involves the victim being beheaded, with the corpse then strung up in public.

Ali was sentenced to death by crucifixion in 2014 following a signed confession that came after a court had failed to prove the charges against him.

According to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve, Ali was tortured and forced to sign a confession in 2012 and after two years he was sentenced to death in May 2014.

During his “trial”, Ali raised the claims of torture but no investigation took place and the court used the confession to sentence him, the charity claims.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in February 2012 and accused of taking part in anti-government protests and illegally possessing firearms.

He was convicted of targeting security patrols with Molotov cocktails.  Ali was also charged with encouraging others to protest using his BlackBerry and explaining to others how to give first aid, Reprieve claimed in a statement on 17 September.

According to human rights groups, the case against the Al-Nimr hinges on his family connection to Sheikh Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year-old critic of the Saudi regime, and the teen’s uncle.

The elder al-Nimr was sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. He is scheduled to be executed by crucifixion this week and activists fear the younger al-Nimr will be executed shortly afterwards.

According to Amnesty International, the last time Saudi Arabia beheaded and crucified a prisoner it was in 2013.

“Five Yemeni men were beheaded and crucified, with pictures emerging on social media showing five decapitated bodies hanging from a horizontal pole with their heads wrapped in bags,” the group said.

“The beheading and ‘crucifixion’ took place in front of the University of Jizan where students were taking exams.”

More than 2000 have been put to death in Saudi Arabia in the last 20 years.

Recently international pressure has been applied to free blogger Raif Badawi, who was given a 10 years sentence for starting a website for social and political debate in Saudi Arabia.

The prosecution first called for him to be tried for apostasy, which carries a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

Then, in May of this year, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes.

The blogger will receive 50 lashings a week for a year, the court ruled.

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