Saudi youth, arrested at 13, faces possible execution

Elias Hubbard
June 12, 2019

"Now #Saudi_Regime is planning to execute Murtaja Qureiris, an #innocent boy with cherubic face Who at the age of 10 Participated in #non_violent bike Protest demanding rights for #Shia_Minority in Saudi".

"There are few more serious breaches of worldwide law than the execution of a child", said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, one of the rights groups. Held with out charges for four years, Qureiris was arrested at the age of 13.

In a 2011 video obtained by CNN, Qureiris - as a 10-year-old - was allegedly seen leading a group of about 30 children in protest during the former Arab Spring uprising.

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty against a teenager accused of crimes he allegedly committed as a minor, drawing fire from rights groups who say his execution would violate global law.

Saudi Arabia has yet to respond to the CNN report and the call by Amnesty International.

Saudi Arabia previously told the United Nations it imposes the death penalty "for the most serious offences" and is subject to the "strictest controls".

"There should be no doubt that the Saudi Arabian authorities are ready to go to any length to crack down on dissent against their own citizens, including by resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest", Ms Maalouf said.

Murtaja Qureiris, now 18, is on trial for charges that include joining a "terror group" and "sowing sedition", according to the rights group.

In Saudi Arabia, it is against the law to participate in protests against the government, and the offense is punishable by death.

Saudi authorities have detained Murtaja Qureiris since his arrest as a 13-year-old in 2014, 15 months of which was spent in solitary confinement, according to CNN. In 2016, the kingdom's highest profile Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was executed, sparking protests from Pakistan to Iran and the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Those protests often ended in bloodshed or mass arrests.

Saudi officials have also intensified crackdown in the country's Shia-populated Eastern Province.

Qureiris is also accused of making Molotov cocktails for his older brother, who was killed during a protest against the government when Qureiris was 11 years old, The Telegraph reported.

Qureiris's first court session will be in August 2018, according to the Times. His next hearing could be within weeks.

He was among 37 men executed in one day earlier this year, in a spree of executions that activists say were politically-motivated. The men had been put to death for "their adoption of extremist, terrorist ideology and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disturb security, spread chaos and cause sectarian discord", the news agency reported.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman poses during a group picture ahead of Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in June.

"'The Saudi Arabian authorities have a chilling track record of using the death penalty as a weapon to crush political dissent and punish anti-government protesters - including children - from the country's persecuted Shia minority", he added.

37 men, a lot of them from the Shiite minority were beheaded in April, including the three prisoners, as Saudi Arabia cracks down on dissidents.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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