SAUDI ARABIA: Televised 'confessions' prejudice fair trial

Amnesty International also said that three, who have been identified in a Saudi Press Agency report as Jamie Patrick Leigh, James Cuttle and Les Walker, should be granted full access to lawyers and consular officials.

Amnesty International UK Communications Director Maggie Paterson said:

'Guilt or innocence is a matter for the courts, not television studios – the Saudi authorities should be concentrating on allowing all detainees access to lawyers not putting them in front of state television cameras.

'By broadcasting television ‘confessions' the Saudi authorities are acting in breach of basic fair trial standards.

'Not only do televised ‘confessions' attempt to establish guilt before any trial has taken place, they also give rise to grave concerns about how these ‘confessions' were obtained in a country where justice is conducted behind closed doors and where torture is common.'

Background In February 2001 three other individuals - Alexander Mitchell, William Sampson and Raf Skivens– were shown on Saudi state television ‘confessing' to bombings in which one British man was killed.

Amnesty International has expressed concerns that the men reportedly had been held for long periods without consular access and without access to lawyers and were at continual risk of torture.

Detainees in Saudi Arabia are routinely denied the right to be formally represented by lawyers during their trial hearings. Confessions, even when obtained as a result of torture, may be accepted by the court as evidence, and may be the sole evidence on which a conviction is based.

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