Saudi Arabia sentences 14 Shias to death: Report

Saudi Arabia has sentenced 14 people to death after convicting them of attacks on police in the Shia-populated area of Qatif in Eastern Province.

Another nine people were given jail sentences of three to 15 years and one was acquitted, their defense lawyer told the Reuters news agency.

He said the 24 defendants had been held for about three years and accused of carrying weapons and shooting at police.

Around 20 Shia Muslims and several police officers were killed during 2011-14 protests.

Faced with a heavy-handed government crackdown, Shias in Qatif and other areas have also been targeted by Daesh attacks since 2014 in which dozens have lost their lives.

Saudi Shias complain they suffer systematic discrimination in the kingdom, whose majority follow Wahhabism and is regarded as the breeding ground for the rise of Takfiri groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.

Riyadh triggered a diplomatic crisis and international outcry after executing prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others in January in defiance of international calls for their release.

International human rights groups have criticized Saudi Arabia’s justice system which they say holds unfair trials.

Convictions for terrorism sometimes extend to peaceful protesters and are secured by torture, according to rights advocacy groups.

In mid-May, Human Rights Watch denounced Saudi Arabia’s trial of 32 men for allegedly spying on behalf of Iran as a “mockery of justice.”

Saudi authorities, it said, had not permitted the defendants to meet with lawyers or provided all of the court documents necessary to prepare a defense after more than three years of detention and investigation.

By Press TV