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Confusion continues: Dates for new trials of Al-Ouda and Al-Qarni

Saudi cleric Salman Al-Ouda
Saudi cleric Salman Al-Ouda [Twitter]

A Saudi court decided to initiate a new series of hearings against prominent sheikhs, Salman Al-Ouda and Awad Al-Qarni.

Son of the Muslim cleric, Abdullah Al-Ouda, announced on Thursday that after the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh “previously decided to adjourn the sessions of my father’s secret trial in order to issue the verdict, it surprised us today by beginning a new series of hearings.”

He posted on his Twitter account that the decision came: “At the request of the prosecution, within a general confused situation,” noting that “my father is still in solitary confinement, and the next hearing will be held on Tuesday.”

The Prisoners of Conscience posted on their Twitter account, stating that the Specialised Criminal Court in Riyadh has set 24 December as the date for a new hearing for Al-Ouda, and 26 December as the date for a new hearing for Al-Qarni.

According to reports by Andolu Agency, Al-Qarni’s health is deteriorating, as he was brought yesterday to the courtroom in a wheelchair. He spent more than two months in hospital due to intentional negligence in prison, with his deteriorating health being exacerbated by wrong doses of medicine intentionally administered to him.

Amnesty International reiterated its call to release Al-Ouda “immediately and unconditionally.”

WATCH: Saudi scholar Salman Al-Ouda on tyranny

“Peaceful expression should not be met with solitary confinement and death sentence,” announced the organisation via Twitter on Thursday.

The Public Prosecution, led by Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mujib, has previously issued 37 charges against Al-Ouda during a hearing held by the Specialised Criminal Court, in addition to the clerics Ali Al-Omari and Al-Qarni, who were arrested days after Al-Ouda, on charges of “terrorism”.

It was previously reported that the authorities had planned to issue and implement death sentences against the three clerics.

In 2017, Saudi authorities arrested prominent clerics and activists in the country, most notably Al-Ouda, Al-Qarni and Al-Omari, amid demands from international and Islamic figures and organisations to release them.

Al-Ouda was arrested in September 2017 after posting a tweet expressing his content over the news that a telephone conversation had been made between the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman.

Read: Are changes to Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws really about women?

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