Feeds

Human rights group pleads for condemned Saudi 'witch'

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

The essential guide to IT transformation

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." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?