Man Sentenced to Death in Saudi Arabia for 'Sorcery'

August 27, 2010

Right now, ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki is facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.  His crime? Sorcery.

‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki is a Sudanese man, about 36 years old.  He was entrapped by a man who worked for the Committee for Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), also known as the Mutawa’een (religious police), who asked him to produce a spell so that the man’s father would leave his second wife.  Apparently, ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki agreed, in exchange for 6,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (about $1600).  When he delivered his work, about 9 pieces of paper with codes written in saffron, he was arrested, reportedly beaten, and coerced into confession.

He didn’t have legal representation and his trial was held in secret. He was sentenced to death on March 27, 2007 and remains in Madina prison. Amnesty International believes him to be at imminent risk of execution.

In Saudi Arabia the death penalty can be imposed for a wide number of offenses and carries out executions. So far, at least 17 people have been executed in 2010.  “Sorcery” isn’t actually defined as a crime in Saudi Arabian law, but it’s been used to punish people for the peaceful expression of human rights such as the freedom of thought, belief, conscience and expression. In fact, scores of people were arrested for sorcery in 2009.  A man was executed for sorcery in 2007 and others, like ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki have been sentenced to death.

‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki’s case raises so many human rights concerns from the freedoms of religion and expression to unfair trials, and the use of the death penalty.  It’s been three years since his death sentence, but Amnesty International has a new action on his case.  During the month of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia has a moratorium on executions.  Additionally, the King often issues amnesties and pardons to some prisoners.  We’d like your help to write the King about ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki’s case to ask for the death sentence to be commuted and, if the conviction is based only on the exercise of his religious freedom, for release.

Will you help ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki?

Read more about Amnesty International’s Urgent Action on ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki

Ready to act? Click here for a sample letter.

Linda Veazey, Amnesty International country specialist for Saudi Arabia contributed to this post