A young prisoner in Saudi Arabia, who was arrested and sentenced to death as a teenager, is currently facing capital punishment of “death by crucifixion,” after the kingdom dismissed his final appeal.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested in February 2012 following the wave of anti-government protests in Qatif. Then 17 years old, he was accused of participating in illegal protests and of firearm offenses – for which authorities were unable to provide any evidence. In addition to that, human rights organization Reprieve claims the prisoner was tortured and forced to sign a confession.
The Specialized Criminal Court convicted Nimr and handed down the death penalty in May 2014. However, the nature of the court has made the details of the charges hard to determine.
What makes this case even more controversial is the fact that Nimr has a familial connection to Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent religious leader in Saudi Arabia. Uncle to the young prisoner, he was also sentenced to the same fate for “insulting the king” and delivering sermons to “disrupt national unity.”
Meanwhile Nimr’s family, which has repeatedly denied the charges against him, recently found out that his final appeal was not only held in secret and without the detainee’s knowledge, but that it was also dismissed.
Since there are no legal obstacles in the way anymore, supporters fear the prisoner could be executed soon.
“No one should have to go through the ordeal Ali has suffered – torture, forced ‘confession,’ and an unfair, secret trial process, resulting in a sentence of death by ‘crucifixion,’” said Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve. “But worse still, Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began. His execution – based apparently on the authorities’ dislike for his uncle, and his involvement in anti-government protests – would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency. It must be stopped.”
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest execution rates in the world, and despite worldwide disapproval, the regime has carried out more than 100 executions so far this year.
Furthermore, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is not the only young protestor who has been sentenced to death for criticizing the Saudi regime. Earlier this year, a prominent Saudi blogger Raif Al-Badawi received 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.”
Human rights organizations have urged the European Union to intervene and prevent the killings of both the uncle and the nephew, while protests for their release have been staged all around the world.
The United Nations has spoken out against al-Nimr's execution, calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately halt executions of minors.
Hacktivist organization Anonymous has targeted Saudi Arabia in protest of al-Nimr's execution. Several government websites were down on Saturday but while they were back up again on Sunday, Anonymous told International Business Times the government can expect another attack.
Anonymous posted two videos over the weekend demanding the release of al-Nimr and warning of pending action against the government until al-Nimr is free.
"The Ministry of Justice was taken offline a few days ago and we will continue to do this to other government websites." A Anonymous hacktivist in the video said, "We hope you listen to us this time and release the young man. You will be treated as a virus and we are the cure."