Nine Saudi judges accused of high treason against crown prince
A number of the judges arrested were involved in the mass execution of 81 detainees last month
By News Desk - April 15 2022

King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman (L). (Photo credit: Bandar Algaloud/Anadolu Agency)

Saudi State Security Agency officials arrested at least nine prominent judges on 11 April, according to a report by the Democracy for the Arab World Now agency (DAWN).

The nine judges were reportedly loyal supporters of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), with many stating that these arrests bear striking similarities to previous purges of perceived rivals of MbS.

Abdullah Alaoudh, Gulf Director at DAWN affirmed that “With MbS as Crown Prince, no one in Saudi Arabia is safe, even those officials most loyal to him, including high-ranking judges who have justified arbitrary arrests for engaging in peaceful activism and sentenced people to death because they held minority views.”

Of the nine judges arrested, three were from the First-Degree Specialized Terrorism Court, three from the Appellate Specialized Court, and three from the High Court.

DAWN profiled two of these judges, Abdullah bin Khalid al-Luhaidan and Abdulaziz bin Medawi al-Jaber, in its ‘Culprits Gallery’ for their roles in enabling human rights abuses.

Al-Luhaidan convicted prominent women’s rights defender Loujain Alhathloul of terrorism charges, while Al-Jaber sentenced a minor to the death penalty.

Al-Jaber also sentenced many people to death in the mass execution of 81 detainees last month.

DAWN has repeatedly called for these judges to be held responsible for their roles in enabling state repression against numerous Saudi human rights defenders, civil society leaders, and democracy reformers, including denying these individuals due process or a fair trial.

In one of the largest mass executions in Saudi Arabia since 1980, a total of 81 people, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian, were killed on charges of alleged terrorism-related activities on 12 March.

Forty of those executed came from Qatif, a region populated by the kingdom’s Shia minority.

The Saudi government claims the executions were carried out on convicts who held “deviant beliefs, pledging allegiance to foreign organizations.”

International non-government-organizations, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), have criticized the Saudi judicial system for its injustice and its lack of due process.

“People accused of crimes, including children, commonly face systematic violations of due process and fair trial rights, including arbitrary arrest,” says an HRW report from March 2022.

HRW notes that many of the confessions of alleged crimes committed by detainees were obtained through torture, often as the sole basis for conviction.

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