Saudi Arabia may for the first time execute a female human rights activist who was arrested some three years ago on charges of supporting anti-government protests and inciting people to disobey the regime.
Israa al-Ghomgham from the Qatif region in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province has been behind bars for 32 months.
She recently appeared in the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital, Riyadh. The public prosecutor called for death penalty for six defendants, including Ghomgham and her husband Moussa al-Hashem, who were arrested in a house raid by Saudi regime forces on December 8, 2015.
"The call of the public prosecution for a death sentence for the detainee is a dangerous indicator that the trial outcome will lead to a death penalty sentence being issued," Sputnik News quoted the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) as saying.
It added that because the “Saudi mechanisms involved in the prosecution process are not independent and serve the needs of King Salman [bin Abdulaziz] directly… Israa is being subjected to an unfair trial, which uses flawed laws and can be regarded as a ‘show trial.’"
The final hearing in Ghomgham's trial will be held on October 28, when a judge will either confirm or overturn the death penalty. If upheld, King Salman should ratify the case before the beheading will be carried out.
Ghomgham, a Shia, came on government radars during 2011 protests in Qatif and demanded an end to discrimination against Shia Muslims and the release of political prisoners.