Saudi Arabia has executed a young man after arresting him for taking part in anti-government protests when he was a teenager.
Mustafa al-Darwish, 26, was executed according to an announcement by the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, according to Reprieve.
The UK-based non-profit organization noted that al-Darwish’s family received no advance notice of the execution and found out about their son’s death only after reading the news online.
Al-Darwish was arrested in May 2015 over multiple charges of participating in protests. Many of the charges took place when he was 17 years old, Reprieve said.
Saudi authorities put Mustafa in solitary confinement during his arrest and beat him “so badly that he lost consciousness several times,” noted Reprieve.
“To make the torture stop, he confessed to the charges against him,” Reprieve said.
Amnesty International, which had called for the execution to be halted last week, called Mistafa “the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed justice system which regularly sees people sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on confessions extracted through torture.”
Al-Darwish recanted his confession at his trial, but the court proceeded with the death sentence even after he explained to the judge that he had been tortured.
Al-Darwish’s family called his arrest and execution a “living death” for relatives.
“How can they execute a boy because of a photograph on his phone?” the family said in a statement through Reprieve. “Since his arrest, we have known nothing but pain.”
Al-Darwish was arrested with two friends in Tarout six years ago, according to his family. He was released without charge, but police kept his phone, the family said.
“We later found out that there was a photograph on the phone that offended them,” the family added. “Later they called us and told Mustafa to come and collect his phone, but instead of giving it back they detained him and our suffering began.”
Ali al-Dubaisy, the director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, said the sudden execution for crimes as a teen exposed Saudi leader Mohammed Bin Salman’s “endless empty promises of reform.”
“Once again the Saudi authorities have shown that their claims to abolished the death penalty for children are worthless,” al-Dubaisy added.
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