Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher

Abdullah was just 15 years old when he was arrested in 2012 for participating in protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. He has been sentenced to death by beheading, along with several other young people.

Abdullah was tortured into signing a so-called ‘confession’ which was used to convict him in an unfair trial process. He is at imminent risk of execution.

Arrest and torture

Abdullah AlzaherAbdullah was arrested on 3 March 2012. In the process, he was shot at and injured by Saudi security forces, who went on to beat him with their weapons before taking him into detention. He was 15 at the time.

In prison, Saudi police tortured Abdullah – including beating him with wire iron rods – and forced him to sign a paper that he had not read, without allowing him to speak to his family or a lawyer. Once he had signed the ‘statement’, the authorities swiftly moved to have it ratified by a local sheikh, or judge.

Abdullah is said to still wear the visible signs of torture. His weight has decreased significantly, and his face – particularly his nose – is disfigured.

Charges and sentence

According to the charging document seen by Reprieve, the charges against Abdullah range from ‘harbouring’ protestors, participating in demonstrations, and chanting slogans, to ‘concealing the offence of incitement’, setting fire to a car, throwing Molotov cocktails, and possession of firebombs.

Abdullah was sentenced to death in October 2014 by the secretive Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh. As with other juveniles tried in the SCC, the prosecutor asked for a ‘crucifixion’ sentence to be given to Abdullah for herabah (‘banditry’) – the same sentence handed to Ali al-Nimr and his activist uncle Sheikh Nimr.

In September 2015, Abdullah’s death sentence was upheld, with no notice being given to his family or lawyer. He has since been moved to solitary confinement in Asir prison, some 1,000km from his family home, meaning his relatives are unable to visit him. He could now be executed at any time.