Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher
Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher was just 15 years old when he was arrested for allegedly participating in protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. He was brutally tortured in detention and forced to sign a ‘confession’ that he had never even read.
On the basis of this ‘confession’, Abdullah was convicted and sentenced to death by beheading. He is at imminent risk of execution.
Arrest and torture
In prison, Saudi police tortured Abdullah, beating him with wire iron rods. They denied him access to a lawyer and his family, and forced him to sign a paper that he had not read. Once he had signed the ‘statement’, the authorities swiftly moved to have it ratified by a local sheikh, or judge.
Abdullah is said to still wear the visible signs of torture. His weight has decreased significantly, and his face – particularly his nose – is disfigured.
Charges and sentence
According to the charging document seen by Reprieve, the charges against Abdullah range from ‘harbouring’ protesters, participating in demonstrations, and chanting slogans, to ‘concealing the offence of incitement’, setting fire to a car, throwing Molotov cocktails, and possession of firebombs.
Abdullah was sentenced to death in October 2014 by the secretive Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh. As with other juveniles tried in the SCC, the prosecutor asked for a ‘crucifixion’ sentence to be given to Abdullah for herabah (‘banditry’) – the same sentence handed to Ali al-Nimr and his activist uncle Sheikh Nimr.
In September 2015, Abdullah’s death sentence was upheld, with no notice being given to his family or lawyer. He has since been moved to solitary confinement in Asir prison, some 1,000km from his family home, meaning his relatives are unable to visit him. He could now be executed at any time.