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Saudi Arabia: Activist Accuses Judge of Conflict of Interest

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia
Earlier today, February 20, 2013 the first hearing session for Saudi Political and Civil Rights Association (ACPRA) co-founder Dr Abdulkareem al-Khadr was held at Criminal Court in Buraidah, the capital of Al-Qassim Province in north central Saudi Arabia. The session was supposed to be held two weeks ago, but the judge did not attend. Two of the association's co-founders, Dr Abdullah al-Hamid and Dr Mohammad al-Qahtani, have been already under trial and contentious weekly interrogation for the previous six months. al-Khadr is the author of several papers making the case for political and civil rights from an Islamic prospective, contradicting the state's official positions.

The list of charges against al-Khadr was published by ACPRA. It was similar to the ones that are against al-Hamid and al-Qahtani and both of them included [ar]:

الدعوة والتحريض على مخالفة النظام، وإشاعة الفوضى، والإخلال بالأمن والطمأنينة العامة، من خلال إعداد وصياغة ونشر بيان يدعو إلى التظاهر في الميادين العامة [...]
Calling for and inciting to break the law, spread chaos and disturb public tranquility and safety by writing and publishing a statement that calls for protesting in public squares [...]
وصف نظام الحكم السعودي – ظلماً وتعدياً – بأنه نظام بوليسي يقوم على الجور والقمع ويتبرقع بالدين واستخدام القضاء لتقنين الظلم من أجل استمرار الفتك المنهجي بحقوق الإنسان.
Unjustifiably calling the Saudi ruling regime a police regime that was established upon injustice and suppression and that misuses religion to justify injustice and to continue human rights violations.
A photo taken inside the courtroom via @alajmi01

A photo taken inside the courtroom via @alajmi01

Over 50 attendees managed to get into the courtroom, but tens of others were unable to do so because the courtroom was small. Unlike the hearing sessions that were held in Riyadh, the attendees were also allowed to get their phones in and to take photos.

Back in 2008, al-Khadr headed al-Hamid's defense team when he was charged of supporting demonstrators in front of the same judge who found al-Hamid guilty and sentenced him to four months in prison. al-Khadr's defense team asked the judge to quit the case because of a personal conflict between him and the defendant that may be related his earlier role. The judge said that the court head is responsible for such decision.

The public prosecutor demanded preventing al-Khadr from traveling, and applying Article 6 of the Cybercrime Law [ar], the punishment of which is:

يعاقب بالسجن مدة لا تزيد على خمس سنوات وبغرامة لا تزيد على ثلاثة ملايين أو بإحدى هاتين العقوبتين

Imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to three million riyals [~800,000USD], or one of these two punishments.

The next hearing session will be held on April 10th.

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

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