SAUDI ARABIA. In 2011 a group of 30 boys staged a peaceful demonstration protesting the lack of human rights for the shia minority. 10-year-old Murtaja Qureiris shouted the slogans through a megaphone. Three years later he was arrested for this crime.
Murtaja was 13 years old at the time and the age of criminal responsibility in Saudi Arabia is 12 after an increase from an unspecified age. He was considered to be the youngest political prisoner at the time and has spent at least one year and three months in solitary confinement.
Now he’s 18 and is being tried in a terror court accused of belonging to an extremist terror group. He’s also accused of using violence and that he helped constructing Molotov cocktails at the protest. Other allegations are that he shot at security forces and marched in the protest at his brothers funeral in 2011.
Qureiris is denying the charges and says that the earlier confessions were obtained under duress, which means that he was tortured. The prosecution argues that he was sowing sedition and demand the harshest penalties in the law: beheading followed by either crucifixtion or dismemberment.
Saudi Arabia have previously communicated to the UN that the death penalty won’t be carried out for those who were younger than the age of criminal responsibity when they were convicted. But so far this year three men have been executed who were minors at the time of commiting their crimes. And their crimes were the same as Qureiris.
An execution in Saudi Arabia takes place in public, on a square after Friday prayer. An executioner is considered to be an religious functionary so there isn’t any doubt that everything about the laws and punishments are born of Islam and the Quran. And all calls to forbid executions are viewed as undermining Islamic law.