Just days after Raif Badawi was given the first 50 of his 1,000 lashes for the “crime” of blasphemy, his lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair got some bad news, too: His 15 years prison sentence (of which five years had been knocked off) was reinstated in full:
On 12 January 2015, the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh held a session in which it sentenced prominent human rights lawyer Waleed Abu Al-Khair to serve 15 years in prison; previously this had been 15 years in prison, with five years suspended, but the court removed the suspension and ordered the full sentence should be served. Throughout the hearing his legs were shackled.
On 6 July 2014, he had received the primary sentence of 15 years in prison, with five years suspended, and a travel ban of equal duration as well as a fine of 200,000 SR. (approximately $53,300).The Public Prosecutor has appealed the primary sentence at the Court of Appeal in Riyadh, which said that he should serve the entire 15 years sentence, as he had not retreated or apologized to the court.
Multiple trumped up charges were brought against him including ‘antagonizing international organisations against the kingdom’, relating to his engagement with international human rights mechanisms including the UN system and ‘incitement of public opinion against authorities’, ‘setting up and supervising an unlicensed association’ referring to MHRSA, and “Preparing, storing and disseminating what would prejudice public order.”
Abu Al-Khair has perhaps one of the hardest jobs in the world: a human rights lawyer in Saudi Arabia. But the work he has done has been remarkable. He’s dedicated his life to defending those whose voices were taken away and I hope he gets continued support from the international community.
(Image via Wikipedia. Thanks to Richard for the link)