Published:  12:31 AM, 13 August 2017

Nobel laureates urge Saudi to hold off on execution of Shiites

Nobel laureates urge Saudi to hold off on execution of Shiites The 14 Shia Muslims face execution for protests and violence against Saudi Arabia security forces. -AP

Ten Nobel laureates from across the world have penned an open letter urging Saudi authorities to hold off on the execution of 14 Shiites convicted of protest-linked crimes. Fears are mounting of the imminent mass execution of the 14 Shiites convicted of charges linked to protests in 2012, including rioting, theft, armed robbery and armed rebellion.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Saudi authorities of coercing confessions which were later retracted in court and of failing to grant fair trials to defendants, including juveniles.

Signed by anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi and former East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta, the letter released late Friday urged King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his son, to "extend the hand of mercy" and refrain from ratifying the death sentences.

"Mujtaba al-Sweika, a bright 18-year-old student in Saudi Arabia, was on his way to visit Western Michigan University in 2012 when he was arrested in the airport in Riyadh. Among his charges is starting a Facebook group and posting images of a demonstration online," read the letter. "Another defendant, Ali al-Nimr, was charged with setting up a Blackberry page named 'The Liberals' and posting photos of the demonstrations, inviting people to participate," it added.

-AFP, Dubai


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