Saudi Arabia: new case of man facing execution for 'sorcery'
Posted: 14 May 2010
Amnesty International has today urged the Saudi Arabian authorities to intervene to halt the possibly imminent execution of a Sudanese man sentenced to death for “sorcery”.
‘Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki was sentenced to death by a Medina court on 27 March 2007, after he was accused of producing a spell that would lead to the reconciliation of his client’s divorced parents. Very little is known about his trial proceedings as they were held in secret. Three years since he was sentenced to death, it is not known what stage his case is at or if his execution has been scheduled, but it is thought likely to be imminent given the time that has elapsed.
‘Abdul Hamid’s case comes soon after that of former television presenter 'Ali Hussain Sibat, who faced execution in early April after being convicted on "sorcery" charges in Saudi Arabia. Following an international outcry his execution was postponed and there were reports that he is likely to be spared execution.
Amnesty International Middle East Deputy Director Philip Luther said:
“‘Abdul Hamid al-Fakki appears to have been convicted solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion.
“We are calling on King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia not to let this or other executions go ahead.”
‘Abdul Hamid Bin Hussain Bin Moustafa al-Fakki was originally arrested on 8 December 2005 in the city of Medina by the Mutawa’een (religious police). He was accused of practising sorcery, after being entrapped by the Mutawa’een, though it is not clear why the authorities targeted him. A man working for the Mutawa’een approached ‘Abdul Hamid and asked him to produce a spell that would lead to the man’s father separating from his second wife and returning to his first wife, the man’s mother.
‘Abdul Hamid apparently agreed to do this in exchange for 6,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (£1,100). He reportedly took an advance of 2,000 riyals from the man, together with the names of his father and the father’s second wife - as well as the names of their mothers - and agreed to meet the man afterwards to deliver his work. He went to the agreed meeting place and was seen by Mutawa’een agents getting into the man’s car. He delivered his work, consisting of nine pieces of paper with codes written on them with saffron, and received the rest of the money.
At this point ‘Abdul Hamid was arrested while in possession of bank notes whose serial numbers had been recorded by the Mutawa’een. He was questioned and apparently beaten, and is believed to have confessed that he carried out acts of sorcery in a bid to solve the family problems of the man who had approached him.
The last known execution for “sorcery” was that of Egyptian national Mustafa Ibrahim, on 2 November 2007. He had been arrested in May 2007 in the town of ‘Arar, where he worked as a pharmacist, and accused of “apostasy” for having degraded a copy of the Qur’an by putting it in a toilet.
At least 69 people are known to have been executed in total in Saudi Arabia last year, the fourth highest number of any country in the world. Since the beginning of 2010, at least 11 further people have been executed in the country.