Saudi Arabia has executed a young man over his reported involvement in anti-government protests when he was a teenager, human rights groups said Tuesday.
The Saudi Ministry of the Interior announced that Mustafa al-Darwish, 26, had been executed, according to Reprieve.
Al-Darwish’s family received no advance notice of his death and only learned that he had been executed by reading the news online, the UK-based non-profit organization said.
Al-Darwish was arrested in May 2015 and charged with offenses related to his participation in protests — many of which occurred when he was 17 years old, according to Reprieve.
According to Reprieve, al-Darwish was placed in solitary confinement and “beaten so badly that he lost consciousness several times.”
“To make the torture stop, he confessed to the charges against him,” Reprieve said.
Amnesty International, which had called for the execution to be halted last week, said al-Darwish was “the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed justice system which regularly sees people sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on confessions extracted through torture.”
At Al-Darwish’s trial he told the court hat he had been tortured and recanted his confession, but he was still sentenced to death, Reprieve said.
“Six years ago, Mustafa was arrested with two of his friends in the streets of Tarout. The police released him without charge but confiscated his phone. We later found out that there was a photograph on the phone that offended them,” Al-Darwish’s family said in a statement released through Reprieve.
“Later they called us and told Mustafa to come and collect his phone, but instead of giving it back they detained him and our suffering began,” the family said. “How can they execute a boy because of a photograph on his phone? Since his arrest, we have known nothing but pain. It is a living death for the whole family.”
Ali al-Dubaisy, the director of the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, said in a statement also released through the organization, “Once again the Saudi authorities have shown that their claims to abolished the death penalty for children are worthless.”
Al-Dubaisy added, “The cruelty of this execution, without warning, for the crime of joining protests as a teenager, is the true face of Mohammed Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia – not the endless empty promises of reform.”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.