Saudi Arabia: Specialised Criminal Court Sentences Man to Death after Severely Flawed Trial

منير آل أدم

On 1 June 2016, the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) of Riyadh sentenced Mounir Aal Adam to death after admitting confessions made under torture into evidence. On 16 August 2016, Alkarama raised his case with the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions (SUMEX), calling for her urgent intervention with the Saudi authorities to demand that the death penalty Mounir was sentenced to not be applied.

Mounir Aal Adam, aged 19 at the time, was arrested on 10 April 2012 by officers in civilian clothes, who failed to inform him of the reason for his arrest. He was held in solitary confinement for a period of four months at Al Mabahith Detention Centre where he was deprived of food and sleep and was heavily beaten with sticks and hoses and electrocuted in order to force him to confess to his participation in anti-government demonstrations.

Mounir was not allowed to communicate with his lawyer during his detention and interrogation and was only allowed to speak to him during the trial's second hearing – a trial that only began nearly three years after his arrest before the Specialised Criminal Court of Riyadh. On the third hearing, pressured by the court, his lawyer resigned from the case. It is a common phenomenon that lawyers are threatened and considered disloyal to the State for defending terrorism cases.

Despite informing the court of the torture he had been subjected to, Mounir's allegations were dismissed and his confessions admitted into evidence. Indeed, his final sentence quotes the written statement he had signed under torture, stating that he had "mandated the investigator to write [his confession] on his behalf, due to [his] illegible handwriting."

The Specialised Criminal Court was established in 2008 by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to try cases of terrorism under the 2013 law on Terrorism and its Financing. Its judges are chosen by the MoI and it has repeatedly been used for prosecuting political dissent. Trials before the SCC are distinguished by violations of legal safeguards and fair trial guarantees.

Concerned about the fate of Mounir Aal Adam and the Court's decision after a flawed trial, Alkarama referred the case to the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, Dr Agnes Callamard, asking her urgent intervention with the Saudi authorities to stop Mounir's execution and provide him with a fair re-trial that would not admit into evidence confessions made under torture. Alkarama also requested that the Saudi authorities launch an independent investigation into all allegations of torture and that those found responsible be prosecuted in accordance with Saudi Arabia's international obligations under the Convention against Torture (CAT) accessed in 1997.

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