• Press Release

U.S. National Faces Execution in Saudi Arabia Despite Unfair Trial

September 13, 2017

The sentence of a U.S. national facing execution after unfair legal proceedings in Saudi Arabia must be rescinded and a new, fair trial must be held in accordance with international human rights standards and without recourse to the death penalty, Amnesty International has said.

Robert Slaten was arrested in 2011 and charged with the murder of his wife. As a part of the evidence used against him, the court took into account a sworn statement by Slaten’s stepson asserting his guilt. Court records indicate that his wife’s son, who did not witness her death, initially refused to make such statements, but was persuaded by the judges to swear under oath that Slaten killed his mother.

“We are calling on Saudi Arabian officials to protect Robert Slaten’s right to a fair trial, and not to impose the death penalty under any circumstance,” said Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA. “The death penalty is cruel and inhumane and Robert’s trial was grossly unfair. He deserves the chance to be tried in fair proceedings with the benefit of effective legal representation. To that end, we also call on the U.S. authorities to demand that the Saudi authorities quash Robert’s sentence and order a retrial. ”

Slaten was held incommunicado and in solitary confinement during the first two months of his detention, and has had virtually no legal representation. His lawyer only attended a few sessions in the early stages of his trial.

The court initially sentenced Slaten to five years in prison. The sentenced was increased to the death penalty after an appeals process.

Amnesty International is asking members to write messages in support of Slaten to Saudi Arabia’s ministers of justice and foreign affairs, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.