Saudi dissident murdered in Dhahban prison after nearly 15 years of detention

Saudi dissident murdered in Dhahban prison after nearly 15 years of detention

On February 2, 2007, Al Qarni was arrested by the Mabahith, and sentenced, on November 22, 2011, by the Specialised Criminal Court to 20 years in prison followed by a travel ban of similar duration. On October 10, 2021, Al Qarni was found dead in his cell in Dhahban prison, Jeddah. His death was caused by a brain haemorrhage resulting from severe injuries and bone fractures to head, face, and chest. To date, the perpetrator and the motive of the crime are still unknown, and the Saudi authorities have failed to undertake any thorough investigation into his death.

Al Qarni was an academic and lawyer belonging to the “Jeddah Reformers”, a group of academics and clerics who were long-standing advocates of political and social reforms.

On February 2, 2007, Al Qarni was arrested by the Mabahith in Medina together with the other members of the group.

On November 28, 2007, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued Opinion No. 27/2007 on the case, holding that the deprivation of liberty of Al Qarni was arbitrary, falling within categories I and II of the Working Group’s methods of work.

Despite the above-mentioned Opinion, Al Qarni was presented before the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court in February 2010, and on November 22, 2011, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a travel ban of similar duration on the charges of “disobeying the ruler”, “planning to start a political party”, and “communicating with foreign entities”.

It was reported that during his detention, Al Qarni was frequently subjected to torture and medical negligence.

On October 10, 2021, Al Qarni was found dead in his cell in Dhahban prison, Jeddah. His death was caused by a brain haemorrhage resulting from severe injuries and bone fractures to head, face, and chest. The deadly wounds were inflicted through beating and the use of sharp objects.

Al Qarni’s body was returned to his family on the evening of October 14, 2021.The family reported that it had visible signs of torture, including all of his ribs broken, to the extent that it was difficult to recognise him.

To date, the perpetrator and the motive of the crime are still unknown and the Saudi authorities have so far failed to undertake any thorough investigation into his death.

Given the existence of a pattern of abuse within Saudi prisons, ALQST for Human Rights and MENA Rights Group submitted an allegation letter to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on October 25, 2021. We requested him to urge the Saudi authorities to ensure that a neutral or external and independent body will be responsible for conducting the investigation on Al Qarni’s death, in order to clarify the circumstances surrounding his death, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Timeline

October 25, 2021: ALQST for Human Rights and MENA Rights Group submit an allegation letter to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
October 14, 2021: Al Qarni’s body is returned to his family and bears visible signs of torture, including all of his ribs broken, to the extent that it is difficult to recognise him.
October 10, 2021: Al Qarni is found dead in his cell in Dhahban prison, Jeddah, by other prisoners.
May 2018: Al Qarni suffers a stroke, but does not receive medical care.
November 22, 2011: Al Qarni is sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a travel ban of similar duration on the charges of “disobeying the ruler”, “planning to start a political party”, and “communicating with foreign entities”.
February 2011: Beginning of Al Qarni’s trial before the Specialised Criminal Court.
November 28, 2007: The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issues Opinion No. 27/2007 holding that the deprivation of liberty of Al Qarni is arbitrary.
February 2, 2007: Al Qarni is arrested by the Mabahith in Medina together with eight other members of the “Jeddah Reformers”.

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