[JURIST] Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Shiite Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was found guilty of sedition and other charges following his involvement in the 2011 Arab Spring Movement. Nimr’s brother made the announcement via Twitter [Twitter page, in Arabic] on Sunday, telling Reuters that his family and lawyers were not given notice of the hearing [Reuters report]. King Salman must still sign off on the death sentence and could decide to issue a royal pardon. Nimr is one of six Shiites that have been sentenced to beheading and public display of their bodies.
Saudi Arabia has been criticized for many of its judicial procedures and treatment of human rights activists. Last week a Saudi activist was sentenced to 10 years in prison and banned from traveling abroad for an additional 10 years [JURIST report]. Last month a group of UN human rights experts urged authorities [JURIST report] in Saudi Arabia to block the execution of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted of involvement in the Arab Spring protests when he was 17. In August Amnesty International (AI) reported that Saudi Arabia’s flawed judicial system has resulted in a surge of executions [JURIST report] following unfair trials. According to AI, 175 people have been executed over the past 12 months with an average of one person put to death every two days. In June a Saudi court upheld [JURIST report] blogger Raif Badawi’s sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” In January a Saudi judge sentenced [JURIST report] prominent human rights lawyer Walid Abu al-Khair to an additional five years in jail after he refused to show remorse for “showing disrespect” to authorities and creating an unauthorized association.