06/16/2021, 10.47
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Hashem al-Darwish, Saudi executed for crimes committed as a minor

Now 26, the young man was accused of fomenting unrest and sowing discord. A photo on his mobile phone used as evidence against him. The family only learned of the execution at a later stage. Last year Riyadh announced a moratorium on the death penalty for children under 18.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) -Riyadh has executed a boy sentenced to death for crimes committed when he was only 17, once more denying the repeated proclamations on the moratorium on the death penalty for minors.

The victim is Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish (pictured), arrested in 2015 for crimes related to street protests against the leaders of the Wahhabi kingdom.

The young man was indicted for forming a terrorist cell and fomenting an armed revolt. Human rights activists and NGOs have repeatedly called for the suspension of his execution, underlining that his sentence is part of an unfair trial characterized by formal defects.

 Amnesty International and Reprive recalled that the 26-year-old had retracted the confession forcibly extracted through torture.

The Saudi authorities have never wanted to comment or deny the allegations. Reuters report that charges included "trying to disturb security with riots" and "sowing discord." A photo on his mobile phone used as evidence against him deemed "offensive to the security forces" and his participation in over 10 "demonstrations" of protests between 2011 and 2012.

Hashem al-Darwish's family received no communication of the imminent execution and only learned about it from reading the news on the internet. The sentence was carried out in Damman, an oil-rich town in the Eastern Province.

"How can they execute a boy because of a photograph on his phone?," his family said in a statement. "Since his arrest, we have known nothing but pain. It is a living death for the whole family."

In April last year, King Salman issued a decree, ending death sentences for crimes committed by minors and commuting the sentence to up to 10 years in a juvenile prison. However, at the time of publication of the act the date of entry into force of the reform was not indicated, while activist groups warned that the death penalty always remains valid.

Moreover, the UN convention for the rights of the child, which Riyadh has signed, states that the death penalty should not be applied for crimes committed by minors. A common practice in the Wahhabi kingdom, among the nations in the world with the greatest number of incidences of repression of human rights, perpetrated also and above all by state apparatuses.

Activist group Reprive reports that Saudi Arabia has already executed in the first six months of 2021 the same number of people killed by the executioner in all of 2020.

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