Saudi authorities on Wednesday freed a young Shi’ite Muslim whose death sentence had been commuted to 10 years in prison under recent legislative reforms, his father said in a Twitter post.
Ali Al-Nimr, the nephew of prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose 2016 execution sparked demonstrations in Saudi Arabia and Iran, was 17 when he was detained in February 2012 for participating in protests in the country’s Eastern Province. In February, Saudi’s state-backed Human Rights Commission said that Nimr along with Dawood al-Marhoun and Abdullah al-Zaher — who were 17 and 15 when they were arrested — had their death penalties reduced to 10 years in prison.
The Saudi public prosecutor ordered a review of the death penalties issued against all three following a 2019 decree that individuals sentenced to death for crimes committed while minors would instead serve up to 10 years in juvenile detention centres. U.N. human rights experts had in March called for the trio to be released, citing allegations of torture and unfair trials. Saudi authorities have repeatedly denied such allegations.
“Our first thoughts are with Ali and his family, who have waited so long for this day, for many years fearing he could be executed at any moment,” said Maya Foa, director of anti-death penalty charity Reprieve which has worked on Nimr’s case for several years. “We are overjoyed that Ali has been released, but he should never have been sent to prison at all, as his only ‘crime’ was attending protests to demand democratic rights.” Read the full story in Reuters.