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Saudi Arabia cancels death sentence against teen who led protests at the age of 13 years

Murtaja Qureiris [File photo]

Saudi Arabia is reported to have cancelled the death sentence issued against a teen, Murtaja Qureiris, now 18 years old, who led anti-government protests at the age of 13, Reuters quoted Saudi official as saying.

The Saudi prosecution has sought the death penalty for 18-year-old Qureiris for allegedly committing a series of crimes, including participating in anti-government demonstrations. Some of the charges date back to when he was about 10 years old.

Activists, including the European-Saudi human rights organization which has been following his case for years, said the boy would not be executed and could be released by 2022.

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Qureiris has received an initial 12-year prison sentence with time served since his arrest and four years suspended for his young age, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, Lynn Maalouf said the reports that Qureiris will not face execution are a source of relief for him and his family. However, it is shameful that the Saudi authorities were demanding the death penalty for a person who was arrested at the age of 13.

“The use of the death penalty against persons under the age of 18 at the time of committing the crime is a flagrant violation of international law,” Maalouf said.

In April, Saudi Arabia executed 37 people, most of whom belonged to the country’s Shia minority. The United Nations says some of the victims were minors when they were arrested.

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