JNN 30 May 2014 Riyadh : A Saudi court on Monday sentenced the 2nd Shia Man to death the son of a senior Muslim cleric after he was convicted of shooting at security forces during anti-regime protests in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, local media said, in the first such ruling in three years.
Activists identified the defendant as Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, a 20-year-old detained since “nearly 30 months.”
Ali al-Nimr, who is 20 according to activists, was convicted of sedition, breaking allegiance to the king, rioting, bearing arms, using petrol bombs against security patrols, robbing a pharmacy and stealing surveillance cameras.
Nimr, who activists said was 17 at the time of his arrest, was also convicted of chanting anti-state slogans in illegal protests and inciting others to demonstrate, state media reported.
The conviction of Nimr, a nephew of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric who is also on trial, follows that of Rida al-Rubh, 26, and said his father, Sheikh Jaafar al-Rubh, has been leading contacts with the Saudi Interior Ministry to restore calm to the town of Awamiya, where most of the protests have taken place, the son of another cleric who has been critical of the authorities.
The two are part of a group of around a dozen defendants now on trial for their part in protests and violent unrest in Qatif, including Sheikh Nimr, particularly in the village of Awamiya, where police officers and facilities have been attacked.
Sheikh Nimr’s arrest in July 2012, during which he was shot in the leg, prompted protests in which three people died.
Scores of Shiites on trial for involvement in anti-regime protests in oil-rich east since February 2011.
The mostly Shia residents of the eastern Qatif region have staged protests for decades calling for the overthrow of the Saudi ruling family over its discrimination targeting the minority group.
The latest wave of demonstrations coincided with the 2011 Arab uprisings. Police have shot dead at least 21 people in the Eastern Province since early 2011.
“This was the first death sentence of its kind since protest marches began in Qatif three years ago,” sabq.org, another Saudi news website, said.
The Arabic daily Okaz said on its website that the man, whom it did not name, was found guilty of opening fire at security forces in the towns of Tarout and Darin, both east of the Qatif governorate, which has been at the heart of recent protests.
The newspaper made no reference to any casualties from the attack.
The Jeddah court also found him guilty of buying weapons and harboring a wanted man and rioters, it said.
Demonstrations in Eastern Province, where most of the kingdom’s two million Shiites live, erupted in 2011 alongside a Shiite-led protest movement in neighbouring Bahrain.
They turned violent in 2012 and clashes between police and protesters have so far killed 24 people, including at least four policemen, according to activists.
Of more than 950 people arrested in Eastern Province for involvement in the Arab Spring-inspired unrest, 217 are still being held.
9 University Professors arrested, suspected to have Links with Muslim Brotherhood
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian authorities arrested nine university professors over alleged links to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is banned in the Saudi kingdom.
Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Monday that the professors, two from Saudi Arabia and the rest from neighboring countries, had been involved with “foreign organizations” based on “voice recordings and emails” related to them.
The daily said in explanation that “foreign organizations” was a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Riyadh labeled as a “terror” group in March, a move that was slammed by the movement in Egypt. The newspaper further said that investigation is expected to be completed by mid-June. If convicted, the nine could receive 10- to 15-year jail terms.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has followed in Riyadh’s footsteps, have launched a crackdown on those accused of links to the Brotherhood.