Feeds

Human rights group pleads for condemned Saudi 'witch'

'Beaten, denied a fair trial, sentenced to death'

The Power of One Infographic

Campaigning group Human Rights Watch has petitioned King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to halt the execution by beheading of a "witch" who in 2006 was convicted of "witchcraft, recourse to jinn [supernatural beings], and slaughter of animals".

Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali is currently languishing in Quraiyat Prison having "exhausted her appeals" against the sentence. The illiterate defendant was arrested back in 2005, and allegedly beaten and obliged to fingerprint a confession that she couldn't read.

The conviction was based on the testimony of several witnesses who said she'd bewitched them, including one who claimed she'd made him impotent. Fawza Falih retracted her confession in court, but Human Rights Watch notes: "The judges never investigated whether her confession was voluntary or reliable or investigated her allegations of torture. They never even made an inquiry as to whether she could have been responsible for allegedly supernatural occurrences, such as the sudden impotence of a man she is said to have 'bewitched'."

Of the trial, Human Rights Watch explains: "The judges did not sit as a panel of three, as required for cases involving the death penalty. They excluded Fawza Falih from most trial sessions and banned a relative who was acting as her legal representative from attending any session.

"Earlier, her interrogators blocked her access to a lawyer and the judges, and denied her the right to professional legal representation, thus depriving her of the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses against her. She claims that some of the witnesses were unknown to her and that others had made statements against her only as a result of beatings."

Following Fawza Falih's conviction in April 2006, an appeals court ruled in September of that year that she "could not be sentenced to death for 'witchcraft; as a crime against God because she had retracted her confession". However, lower court judges "then sentenced her to death on a 'discretionary' basis, for the benefit of 'public interest' and to 'protect the creed, souls and property of this country'".

Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, concluded: "The judges' behaviour in Fawza Falih's trial shows they were interested in anything but a quest for the truth. They completely disregarded legal guarantees that would have demonstrated how ill-founded this whole case was." ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.