The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomed the decision issued on Tuesday, 02 February 2016, by the General Saudi Court in Abha City to abolish the death sentence against the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh.
The Saudi Court issued its decision by majority, overturning the previous death sentence against the accused person for apostasy. However, the court proved the verdict of apostasy against Fayadh, so he was sentenced to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes. Fayadh was ordered to disown his writings and repent via the official media. According to the sentence, the lashings to be carried out as 50 lashes per session.
In the meantime, PCHR upholds challenging the new sentence, which considered Fayadh a repentant and sentenced him to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes. PCHR also calls for the release of Fayadh pending the challenge before the Court of Appeal, stressing the innocence of PCHR’s client Fayadh from the charges against him that are based neither on law nor reality. Moreover, PCHR highlights Fayadh’s is in a legally sound position.
It should be mentioned that Fayadh was previously detained by the Saudi authorities in 2013 upon a complaint filed by a person to the Saudi Religious Police accusing him of having misleading thoughts, but Fayadh was released after just one day due to lack of evidence. In January 2014, the Religious Police arrested Fayadh again in Abha City, southwest of Saudi Arabia, on grounds of his 2008 book of poetry titled, “Instructions Within”. On 01 Rajab 1435 AH, the first sentence was issued against him to 4 years in prison and 800 lashes.
On 17 November 2015, after the first sentence was appealed by the Public Prosecution, the Court of Appeal issued a death sentence against Fayadh for alleged blasphemous statements and promoting atheistic thoughts.
PCHR has been recently following up Fayadh’s case after the death sentence was issued against him. This is part of a campaign launched in solidarity with Ashraf Fayadh to denounce the death sentence and call upon the Saudi authorities to abolish the sentence especially as that sentence was issued upon a malicious complaint filed by a person against Fayadh.