July 8, 2014

SAUDI ARABIA: A Saudi Sharia Court Sentenced Human Rights Lawyer And Cctivist Waleed Abu Alkhair To 15 Years In Prison For “Insulting The General Order Of The State And Inciting Public Opinion.

I have taken the following from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington D.C. website:
Legal And Judicial Structure: Since Saudi Arabia is an Islamic state, its judicial system is based on Islamic law (Shari’ah) for both criminal and civil cases. At the top of the legal system is the King, who acts as the final court of appeal and as a source of pardon.

The Saudi court system consists of three main parts. The largest is the Shari’ah Courts, which hear most cases in the Saudi legal system. The Shari’ah courts are organized into several categories: Courts of the First Instance (Summary and General Courts), Courts of Cassation and the Supreme Judicial Council.

Supplementing the Shari’ah courts is the Board of Grievances, which hears cases that involve the government. The third part of the Saudi court system consists of various committees within government ministries that address specific disputes, such as labor issues.

Shari’ah (Islamic Law): Shari’ah refers to the body of Islamic law. It serves as a guideline for all legal matters in Saudi Arabia. In the Shari’ah, and therefore in Saudi Arabia, there is no difference between the sacred and the secular aspects of society.

Muslims derive Shari’ah law primarily from the Holy Qur’an and secondarily from the Sunnah, the practices and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime. The third source is Ijma’, the consensus of opinion of Muslim scholars on the principles involved in a specific case occurring after the death of the Prophet. Qias, analogy, is the fourth source of law.

Shari’ah presumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and only in serious crimes or in cases of repeat offenders is one likely to witness severe punishments.
The Wall Street Journal
written by Ahmed Al Orman
Monday July 7, 2014

A Saudi court on Sunday sentenced prominent human rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abu Alkhair to 15 years in prison followed by an equally long travel ban on charges such as “insulting the general order of the state and its officials” and “inciting public opinion.”

Until he was arrested in April while on trial in Riyadh, Mr. Abu Alkhair, founder of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (MHRSA), has been a vocal critic of the government and called for major reforms in the kingdom including a constitutional monarchy.

The Specialized Criminal Court in the coastal city of Jeddah also sentenced Mr. Abu Alkhair to a fine of 200,000 riyals ($53,000) and ordered to shut down his organization and any related websites as well as all his Internet accounts, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Mr. Abu Alkhair was sentenced last year to three months in prison for signing a statement critical of the government, and throughout his latest trial has refused to recognize the court as he deemed “this trial illegitimate and this judge not neutral.”

The organization that he founded released a statement on Sunday night saying the latest sentence against him is “the price that Waleed Abu Alkhair has been expecting as a result of his peaceful demands and defense of human rights.”

The activist was convicted on charges of a new controversial antiterrorism law that was passed in February amid criticism by international human rights groups that the new law would be used to silence peaceful dissent.

“Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement in March, “but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism.”

Mr. Abu Alkhair told The Wall Street Journal a week later that this was “a dark period” for human rights in Saudi Arabia. “No question about it.”

However, his lawyers won’t appeal the verdict, the statement from MHRSA said, while the public prosecutor announced that he plans to object, the state news agency said, presumably to seek a harsher sentence.

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