James Crisp – The Telegraph.co.uk June 8, 2019
A teenager faces execution in Saudi Arabia after taking part in a demonstration against the government when he was ten years-old.
Minors cannot be put to death in Saudi Arabia but the government plans to carry out the execution now that Murtaja Qureiris is 18-years-old, a CNN investigation has found.
At least three other prisoners have been executed in the kingdom this year for crimes they are alleged to have committed before the age of 18.
37 men, most of them from the Shiite minority were beheaded in April, including the three prisoners, as Saudi Arabia cracks down on dissidents. One was crucified after death, a punishment that Mr Quereiris also faces.
Mr Qureiris was arrested when he was 13 by border authorities as he travelled to neighbouring Bahrain with his family, three years after he was filmed taking part in a bike ride protest during the 2011 Arab Spring.
The demonstration took place in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia, which was a centre of protest by the Shiite minority in the Sunni majority kingdom.
In the video, he is seen shouting, “The people want human rights” with other boys on bikes.
Considered the youngest political prisoner in the world at the time, Mr Qureiris has spent the last four years in pre-trial detention. At least 15 months of that time was in solitary confinement.
He was handed a charge seat recommending the death penalty months before his 18th birthday.
Mr Qureiris is being tried in a special court because he is accused of being a member of a terrorist organisation.
CNN reported that prosecutors are seeking the harshest possible penalty, which may include crucifiction or dismemberment after execution.
Prosecutors argue that “sowing of sedition” justifies the worst possible punishment under Saudi Arabia’s draconian interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.
Mr Qureiris is accused of making Molotov cocktails for his older brother, who was a political activist until he was killed in a demonstration when Mr Qureiris was 11.
Video of the funeral shows crowds of mourners chanting slogans against the regime. Activists claim that another of Mr Qureiris brothers and his father have been arrested.
Amnesty International said, “It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offences that include taking part in protests while he was just ten.”
The Saudi Arabian government did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.