He Committed Alleged Crimes as Teen, Was Executed Anyway

Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish was arrested for protest-related activities in Saudi Arabia
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2021 3:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish was just 17 when he allegedly participated in an "armed rebellion" in his home country of Saudi Arabia. And yet, despite claiming last year it would stop sentencing minors with death and would apply the change retroactively, the country executed al-Darwish, then 26, on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reports. Human rights groups had called for the execution to be halted, claiming that in addition to al-Darwish's youth at the time of the offenses, he was subjected to an unfair trial, the BBC reports. The groups also say he only confessed after being tortured, placed in solitary confinement, and beaten so badly he passed out, and that he later recanted.

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Al Jazeera notes that his charges stemmed from protest activities like rioting, though the kingdom claimed he formed a terror cell and attempted to launch an armed revolt. "Since his arrest, we have known nothing but pain. It is a living death for the whole family," al-Darwish's family, which only learned about his execution through news reports, says in a statement. "How can they execute a boy because of a photograph on his phone?" They say al-Darwish was arrested on the streets with some friends and released after his phone was confiscated. Authorities say they found an image on it that was "offensive to the security forces." His family says he was called to the station to pick up his phone, but was instead detained. (Read more Saudi Arabia stories.)

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