Saudi urged to hold off death penalty on 14 Shiites

2017-08-12 15:40:22 GMT2017-08-12 23:40:22(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIYADH, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Ten Nobel laureates have urged Saudi authorities to hold off the execution of 14 Shiites convicted of protest-linked crimes, local sources said Saturday.

Saudi Arabia has ordered mass execution of the 14 Shiites convicted of charges including rioting, theft, armed robbery and armed rebellion, the sources said.

Nobel laureates including anti-apartheid leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi and former East Timor president and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta signed the petition letter late Friday.

They urged King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to refrain from ratifying the death sentences.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Saudi authorities of coercing confessions which were later retracted in court and failing to grant fair trials to defendants, including juveniles.

In July, the supreme court upheld the death penalty for the 14 men, all Saudi citizens. The sentences must be ratified by the king or the crown prince for the executions to go ahead.

The 14 are all linked to protests in Qatif, an eastern province home to most of the Sunni-ruled kingdom's Shiite minority, who have long complained of marginalisation.

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