HLHR : The Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) of Saudi Arabia sentenced dozens of Palestinians and Jordanians associated with the Palestinian cause to prison sentences ranging from 6 months to 22 years.
Among the 68 persons sentenced were 84-year-old Mohammed Saleh al-Khudari, a leading Palestinian official, who was sentenced to 15 years, with half the term suspended, and his son Hani al-Khudari, was given three years.
A small number were acquitted. The rulings are preliminary and can be appealed within 30 days.
The charges in the case were mostly linked to membership of or support for the Palestinian group Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood, or collecting donations for Palestine.
Although the Public Prosecutor invoked the Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Cybercrime Laws, the charge sheet made no reference to any specific act of terrorism or violence.
In practice, the vaguely formulated Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Cybercrime Laws are frequently used to stifle fundamental freedoms in Saudi Arabia.
The group were first brought before the SCC on 8 March 2020, in a mass trial that has been marred by numerous violations of international fair trial guarantees.
Neither their relatives nor international observers from foreign embassies were able to attend the trial, and there were no independent lawyers present.
These individuals were subjected to numerous violations in detention following their mass arrest early in 2019, including months of enforced disappearance, long periods in solitary confinement, and in some cases torture.
There are serious health concerns for many of them, including Mohammed al-Khudari, who was undergoing post-operative cancer treatment at the time of his arrest in April 2019 and has been denied adequate medical care in prison.
Khudari’s family fear that his life may be in danger as a result of the Saudi authorities’ gross neglect. Meanwhile, Hani al-Khudari, who is also in detention, has gallstones that urgently require surgery.
Others among the detainees are suffering from chronic conditions including hepatitis, diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, and are not receiving the healthcare they need.
These sentences were handed down in a seriously flawed mass trial, on clearly politically motivated charges, says human rights organization ALQST’s acting director Nabhan al-Hanshi.
The Saudi authorities have subjected these individuals to more than two years of cruel treatment, showing a callous disregard for their health and wellbeing in detention.
They should now be immediately released and the charges against them dropped.
Human rights organizations call on the Saudi authorities to release the 68 individuals, drop the vague and spurious charges against them, and investigate the violations of their rights while in detention.
Saudi authorities are responsible for the health and wellbeing of the detainees, who must be given access to the urgent medical care they require.