Amnesty International Urges Saudi King to Halt Execution of Sudanese Man Sentenced for "Sorcery"

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Amnesty International Urges Saudi King to Halt Execution of Sudanese Man Sentenced for "Sorcery"

Convicted Man Accused of Producing "Spell" to Reconcile Divorced Couple

NEW YORK - Amnesty International today
called on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to intervene to halt the possibly
imminent execution of a Sudanese man who was given the death sentence for
“sorcery."  

Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki, who was sentenced to death
by a Madina court on March 27, 2007, was accused of producing a spell that
would lead to the reconciliation of his client’s divorced parents. The
"spell" involved nine pieces of paper with codes written on them
with saffron.

Very little is known about his trial proceedings
as they were held in secret. It is also not known if his execution has
been scheduled, but it is considered likely to be imminent, given the time
that has elapsed.

“Abdul Hamid al-Fakki appears to have been convicted solely for the peaceful
exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion,” said Philip
Luther, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North
Africa program.

“We are calling on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia not to let this or other
executions go ahead.”

Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki was arrested on December
8, 2005 in the city of Madina by the Mutawa’een (religious police).  He
was accused of practicing sorcery after being entrapped by the Committee
for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV).

It is not clear why the authorities targeted him. A man working for the
CPVPV approached Abdul Hamid and asked him to produce a spell that would
lead to the man’s father separating from his second wife and returning
to his first wife, the man’s mother.

Abdul Hamid apparently accepted to do this in exchange for 6,000 Saudi
Arabian riyals (approximately US $1,600).

He delivered his work, consisting of nine pieces of paper with codes written
on them with saffron, and was promptly arrested, questioned and beaten.

Background

The crime of “sorcery” is not defined in Saudi Arabian law but has been
used to punish people for the legitimate exercise of their human rights,
including the rights to freedom of conscience, religion, belief and expression.

 
The Saudi Arabian authorities arrested scores of people for “sorcery”
in 2009, and have arrested over 20 more this year. Often arrests are carried
out by the Mutawa’een, which uses entrapment to secure charges not only
of “sorcery” but also of other offenses such as khilwa

The last known execution for “sorcery” was that of Egyptian national
Mustafa Ibrahim, on November 2, 2007. Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty
for a wide range of offenses, including some with no deadly consequences,
such as sorcery. Court proceedings fall far short of international standards
for fair trial.  Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation
by a lawyer, and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal
proceedings against them.

They may be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under
duress or deception. Prisoners in Saudi Arabia may be put to death without
a scheduled date for execution being made known to them or their families.
Since the beginning of 2010, at least 11 people have been executed.
(being
in the company of members of the opposite sex who are not close relatives).

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We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

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