Reports of Confession Under Duress, No Opportunity for Appeal
(NEW YORK) - Amnesty International said today Saudi Arabia is set to execute seven men Wednesday morning for robbery and called for an immediate halt to what would be an act of "sheer brutality." Confessions the men made were obtained under torture.
Those close to the men report that seven mounds of earth have appeared in a public square in Abha, the city in which they are detained, signaling what people believe is their imminent execution, reportedly at 9 a.m. EST.
"Executing these men would be an act of sheer brutality - it must be stopped immediately," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa. "All seven should be granted a new trial and torture allegations must be investigated."
The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery. All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to "confess" to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their "confessions."
"It is a bloody day when a government executes seven people on the grounds of 'confessions' obtained under torture, submitted at a trial where they had no legal representation or recourse to appeal," said Luther. "The Saudi authorities granted a stay of execution earlier in the month. They must now revoke the outrageous decision to proceed with the killings. The death penalty is a violation of a fundamental human right - the right to life - and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, whatever form it takes."
Two of the men are believed to have been juveniles at the time of the alleged crime: Ali bin Muhammad bin Hazam al-Shihri and Sa'id bin Nasser bin Muhammad al-Shahrani.
In a trial that only lasted several hours, all men were denied legal representation and refused the opportunity to appeal. Saudi Arabian authorities postponed the executions after an international outcry.
Amnesty International spokespeople are available for interviews in Arabic and English.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.