Saudi Arabia is to execute Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a Shi’ite Muslim over his role in anti-government protests in 2012, despite protests that he was a minor when arrested. Activists say he could be beheaded and crucified as early as his week.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, the nephew of a prominient Shi’ite cleric was given the death penalty in May after taking part in demonstrations three years ago for democracy and equal rights in Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing Eastern Province as a 17-year-old high school student.
A court later convicted him of charges including belonging to a terror cell, attacking police , incitement and stoking sectarianism. His final appeal was rejected when the Appeals Court and High Court ratified his verdicts last week. Human rights groups, journalists and politicians have expressed outrage and taken to social media to call attention to the case.
According to CNN, a group of U.N. experts has joined rights groups in calling on Saudi Arabia to halt the execution. “Any judgement imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of their offense, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations,” the U.N. group said in a statement on Tuesday, invoking the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a part of.
Yesterday France joined a growing international call to pardon al-Nimr. “France is concerned about the situation of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death even though he was a minor at the time of the events,” foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said. “Opposed to the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, we call for the execution to be called off.”
France statement came a day after United Nations rights experts called on Riyadh to halt Nimr’s “imminent execution” “Saudi Arabia’s plans to behead and crucify someone arrested as a child are indefensible,” said Donald Campbell, spokesman for international human rights charity Reprieve. “The international community –particularly Saudi Arabia’s close allies, the UK and the U.S. – must stand with the French government and U.N. experts against this outrage, and call on the Saudi authorities to put a halt to this unjustified killing.”
The conviction of Nimr followed that of Rida al-Rubh, 26, the son of another cleric who has been critical of the authorities. The clerics are part of a group of around a dozen defendants on trial for their part in protests and violent unrest in Qatif, particularly in the village of Awamiya, where police officers and facilities have been attacked. Al-Nimr’s parents are expected to visit him on Friday.
It will be the first time they have seen him since his appeal was denied. “Ali has always been an optimistic and outgoing person,” a close family source said. “I feel helpless. I don’t know. This is life in Saudi Arabia” he added.
Latest reports reveals that Ali made a short telephone contact with his family few hours ago.