DUBAI: Saudi Arabias Supreme Court has approved the death penalty for the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, his brother said on Monday.
Mohammad al-Nimr, the clerics brother, said in a message on social media that the Saudi Supreme Court and an appellate court had approved the execution of the pro democracy cleric and authorized the Saudi Interior Ministry to carry out the sentence.
The execution warrant has been reportedly sent to Muhammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi crown prince, who is also the first deputy prime minister and the minister of interior of Saudi Arabia.
The warrant will now be sent to Saudi Arabias ruler Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud after the approval of the Interior Ministry.
Saudi king signs the black warrant for high profile executions.
The execution of the popular Shia religious leader can be carried out by the Interior Ministry without any prior warning if the Saudi king signs the order.
63 year old Sheykh was attacked and arrested in an injured condition in Qatif region, east of Saudi Arabia, in July 2012 following wave of pro-democracy protests coinciding with the Arab Spring. He was soon charged with undermining the kingdoms security, making anti-government speeches, and defending political prisoners.
“After the confirmation of Sheikh Nimr’s death sentence by the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court, his life is in the hands of King Salman who can endorse the sentence or suspend the execution,” said Mohammed al-Nimr.
He warned his brother’s execution “could provoke reactions that we do not want, as Sheikh Nimr had supporters across the Islamic world”.
Among those sentenced to death, “three, including my son Ali, were minors at the time of arrest” for involvement in pro-democracy protests that erupted in the Eastern Province in the wake of the Arab Spring, Sheikh Nimrs brother told AFP.
In October 2014, a Saudi court sentenced Sheikh Nimr to death, provoking huge condemnations and world-wide criticism.
Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, the nephew of the cleric, has also been also sentenced to death over his alleged role in anti-regime protests in 2012, when he was 17 years old.
“We don’t want anything to happen to him or to Ali or the other young men,” Mohammed al-Nimr said.
Ali Mohammad was arrested during an anti-government protest in Qatif and was later convicted of alleged criminal activities and handed down a death penalty by Saudi Arabias Specialized Criminal Court in May 2015.
Peaceful demonstrations erupted in Saudi Arabias Eastern Province in February 2011, with protesters demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners and an end to widespread discrimination against people of the oil-rich region. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.
International rights bodies, including Amnesty International, have criticized Saudi Arabia for its grim human rights record, arguing that widespread violations continue unabated in the oil-rich country even though a new ruler, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has taken the helm of the absolute monarchy.
Iran issues warning
A senior Iranian lawmaker warned that Saudi Arabias possible execution of Baqr al-Nimr could trigger a new wave of unrest in the Arab country.
Chairman of the Iranian Parliament Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on Monday that the execution, if carried out, would result in a new chapter of crisis and unrest in the kingdoms Shia-dominated region which will be by no means beneficial to the Saudi government.
Ayatollah Sheikh Nimr has committed no offense but speaking to people, Boroujerdi added.
The Iranian lawmaker emphasized that Saudi Arabia seeks to implement the decision to execute Sheikh Nimr without any logic.
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