Saudi Arabia beheads man after finding photo of anti-govt protests on his phone

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A man accused of taking part in anti-government riots was beheaded this morning in Saudi Arabia.

Mustafa Hashim al-Darwish, now 26, was accused of taking part in the protests when he was in his teens.

Court papers didn’t provide any specific dates for the alleged offences, but most of the eco-called "Arab Spring" uprisings were over before September 2012, when al-Darwish turned 18.

The al-Darwish family say he was kept in isolation for six months after he was arrested and only made his alleged confession after he had beaten so badly he passed out.

An official statement from the family said: "Six years ago, Mustafa was arrested with two of his friends in the streets of Tarout. The police released him without charge but confiscated his phone."

They added: "We later found that there was a photograph on the phone that offended them.

"How can they execute a boy because of a photograph on his phone?

"Since his arrest, we have known nothing but pain."

An official report from state media said al-Darwish was being punished for "creating with some terrorists an armed terrorist cell aimed at monitoring and killing security forces, causing riots, provoking chaos and sectarian strife and making bombs with the intent of disruption".

It made no mention of his age at the time.

Last year, in a series of reforms overseen by controversial Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia scrapped the death penalty for minors except in cases of murder.

Ali Adubisi, director of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, said: "Once again the Saudi authorities have shown that their claims to have abolished the death penalty for children are worthless.

"The cruelty of this execution, without warning, for the crime of joining protests as a teenager, is the true face of Mohammed Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia – not the endless empty promises of reform."

Several prominent positions had been asked to intervene on al-Darwish’s behalf, including British foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who visited Saudi Arabia just last week.

Maya Foa, director of human rights group Reprieve, said: "The foreign secretary was asked to raise juvenile Mustafa’s case on his visit to the kingdom. One week later, Mustafa was executed.

"It is not enough for Saudi Arabia’s partners to 'raise human rights issues,' as British foreign secretary Dominic Raab reportedly did on his recent visit to the kingdom. They need to raise specific cases, and make clear that executions for childhood crimes will not be tolerated."

  • Saudi Arabia

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