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Saudi Judge: “What applies to the ruler, does not apply to those he rules”

Earlier today, the Riyadh Criminal Court held the sixth hearing session of the ongoing trial of the two prominent human rights activists Mohammad Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid. In the last hearing session, the judge decided to give the two activists two weeks to respond to the accusations. Today's session was solely a debate between the judge and the defendants, and the public prosecutor did not talk at all. Sixty-five people attended the session, 20 more people than the previous one. For the first time, correspondents of two news channels attended to cover the session: Al Jazeera and Sky News.

Mohammad al-Qahtani (on the left) and Abdullah al-Hamid (on the right) before the session, via @thumarm

Today's session marks the third public one, and like the previous session, attendees were ordered to leave their mobile phones outside the courtroom. Among the 65 attendees, there were two women. In addition, Dr. Mohammed al-Abdulkareem, who was arrested in 2010 for writing a political article, joined the deference team for the first time.

Like the previous session, today's was mainly a religious debate:

القاضي:كل ما يشرعه ولي الأمر فهو مطابق للشريعة . رد الحامد:المظاهرات أجازها ولي الأمر بالانضمام الى الميثاق العربي لحقوق الانسان #محاكمة_حسم

@WaleedSulais: The judge: Everything the ruler does is Sharia-compliant. al-Hamid: Protests were permitted by the ruler when he acceded the Arabic Charter on Human Rights.

خلال #محاكمة_حسم الدكتور العبدالكريم: نصوص آيات واحاديث دفع الظلم واضحة على الجميع حاكما ومحكوما. القاضي: لا يقاس ما على المحكوم بالحاكم

@thumarm: During ACPRA trial, Dr. al-Abdulakareem [said]: Quran and Hadith are very explicit in calling for everyone, the ruled and the ruler, to fight injustice. The judge: what applies to the ruler, does not apply to those he rules.

The defendants tried, once again, to hold authorities accountable for their double-standards:

خلال #محاكمة_حسم الحامد: الدولة وقعت اتفاقيات حقوق الانسان الي تنص بكفالة حق التظاهر، فأي شرع نتهم بمخالفته!، الا ان الدولة تخالفه قبلنا!

@thumarm: During ACPRA trial, al-Hamid [said]: The state signed human rights declarations that guarantee the right to protest. If we have violated Sharia law, the state had done so before us!

When the judge asked the defendants to prove that there are over 30,000 arbitrary detainees, Dr. al-Hamid said:

نطالب بتشكيل لجنة لتقصي الحقائق في سجون المباحث, المعلومات التي لدينا ليست قطعية وهناك دلائل أنهم أكثر من 30 ألف سجين, تخبط البيانات الرسمية هو السبب

We demand a fact-finding commission. The information that we have is not precise, we have signs that they are more than 30,000 because of the contradiction between official reports.

The next hearing session will be held next Saturday, December 1.

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