국제앰네스티는 레바논 남성에게 “마법행위”를 이유로 내려진 사형선고를 승인하지 않은 사우디 아라비아 대법원의 결정을 환영한다.
수도인 리야드 법원은 ‘알리 후사인 시밧(Ali Hussain Sibat)에게 내려진 사형선고는 그의 행동으로 인해 다른 사람이 피해를 받았다는 증거가 없는 상태에서 결정된 것이기 때문에 부당하다고 말했다.
또한, 법원은 전 판결을 내린 하위법원에서 그의 감형조치와 수감 뒤 레바논으로의 추방에 관련하여 다시 재판할 것을 명령했다.
국제앰네스티 말콤 스마트 중동•북아프리카국 국장은 “대법원의 이번 결정을 환영하며 이것은 알리 후사인 시밧이 더 이상 사형의 위협을 받지 않을 수도 있게 되었다”며 환영하는 한편 “그러나 우리는 그가 단지 표현의 자유를 누렸다는 이유 만으로 애초에 수감된 것 이므로 그를 즉각 석방할 것을 요구한다”고 밝혔다.
그는 레바논 케이블 방송 프로그램을 진행하며 시청자들에게 조언과 미래에 대한 예언을 했으며 2008년 5월 사우디 아라비아 방문 중 종교경찰인 무타와’인에 의해 검거 되었다. 국제앰네스티는 지난 9월 사우디 아라비아 국왕에게 그에게 내려진 사형선고를 거부할 것을 요청한바 있다.
SAUDI ARABIAN COURT REJECTS ‘SORCERY’ DEATH SENTENCE
12 November 2010Amnesty International has welcomed a decision by the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court this week not to ratify the death sentence on a Lebanese man convicted of “sorcery”.
The court in the capital Riyadh said that the death sentence for ‘Ali Hussain Sibat was inappropriate because there was no proof that others were harmed as a result of his actions.
The court ordered that the case be retried in the original lower court in Madina with a view to considering commutation of his death sentence and deportation to Lebanon at the end of his sentence.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome step and may lead to ‘Ali Hussain Sibat’s no longer facing the death penalty,” said Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme.
“However, we continue to urge that he be immediately released as he was convicted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.”
The “sorcery” charges against ‘Ali Hussain Sibat relate to his former role as a presenter on the Lebanese satellite TV station Sheherazade, in which he gave advice and predictions about the future.
He was sentenced to death by a Madina court on 9 November 2009, following his arrest by the Mutawa’een (religious police) in May 2008 while he was visiting Saudi Arabia on a form of Muslim pilgrimage, umra.
He was given no legal representation or assistance during the trial hearings.
In January 2010, the Court of Appeal in Makkah accepted an appeal against his death sentence on the grounds that all the allegations against him had to be verified, and that if he was found to have committed the crime he should be given the opportunity to repent.
Despite this, on 10 March a court in Madina upheld his death sentence after the judges said he deserved to be sentenced to death because he had practised “sorcery” publicly for several years before millions of viewers. His actions, they said, made him an “infidel”.
The Court of Appeal in Makkah subsequently upheld the death sentence in April 2010 and referred the case to the Supreme Court for ratification.
‘Ali Hussain Sibat’s lawyer in Lebanon believes that he was arrested because members of the Mutawa’een had recognized him from his television show.
After he was arrested, ‘Ali Hussain Sibat’s interrogators told him to write down what he did for a living, misleading him into believing that if he did so he would be allowed to go home after a few weeks.
This document was presented in court as his “confession” and it was used by the court to convict him.
In September, Amnesty International urged King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to commute the death sentences of ‘Ali Hussain Sibat and a Sudanese man convicted of sorcery, ‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki.
‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki was sentenced to death by the General Court in Madina in March 2007. He had no legal assistance and very little is known about his trial proceedings as they were held in secret. He is believed to still be at risk of execution.
Another man sentenced to death for “apostasy” in July 2009 by a court in Hail on grounds relating to “sorcery” may also still be at risk.
The crime of “sorcery” is not defined in Saudi Arabian law, and has been used to punish people for the legitimate exercise of their human rights, including the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, belief and expression.
The criminalization of apostasy is incompatible with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The last known execution in Saudi Arabia of someone charged with such an offence was that of Egyptian national Mustafa Ibrahim on 2 November 2007.
He was convicted of “sorcery” and “witchcraft” for allegedly casting spells to attempt to separate a married couple.
Since the beginning of 2010, at least 22 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of other crimes.
In 2009, 69 people are known to have been executed, including almost 20 foreign nationals. At least 102 people were executed in 2008 and at least 158 in 2007.