09/23/2015, 00.00
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UN: Riyadh stop the death sentence of Arab Spring protester

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was under age and in high school in 2012when he joined the protests in the eastern city of Qatif. United Nations officials say he was subjected to violence, torture and abuse by the police; the confession was extorted by force. He faces beheading and crucifixion. In 2015 the Executioner has already killed 134 people in the Saudi kingdom.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - UN officials, human rights experts are appealing to the authorities in Riyadh to put a stop to the execution of a young man accused of joining a criminal gang after having participated in the Arab Spring protests when he was a minor. Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was still attending high school when, in 2012, he joined those who were demonstrating to demand reforms and greater democracy in Qatif, a town in the eastern part of the kingdom.

In an official statement the UN officials say the young man was repeatedly subjected to torture, abuse, forced to confess and did not receive adequate legal assistance before and during his trial. His appeal was conducted "with a total disregard of international standards".

"Every judgment - the UN report says - that imposes the death penalty on persons who were minors at the time, and their effect, is incompatible with the international obligations assumed by Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the young man is locked up on death row, and "could be executed at any time." After decapitation, the boy will be crucified by the authorities as a "warning against the criminals."

In addition to the conviction for joining a criminal gang, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was also indicted for attacking the police. Two other people, also minors at the time, could soon end up in the hands of the Executioner always in connection with protests in Qatif.

Activists and human rights groups say that between January 1985 and June 2015, Saudi Arabia executed at least 2,208 people, about half of them foreigners; among those killed by the Executioner are people with mental disabilities and minors. This year the number of executions has already reached 134, 44 more than in last year's total.

"We appeal to the Saudi authorities - the UN experts conclude - because a moratorium to the use of the death penalty, interrupt the execution of convicted persons and minors at the time. Finally, thorough investigations should be launched into alleged cases of torture".

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