First Published: 2010-08-30


Saudi readies charges against prominent activist


Reshoudi's lawyers have filed lawsuit against Saudi authorities, demanding they formally charge him or release him.


Middle East Online

By Habib Trabelsi - PARIS

Reshoudi will be finally tried

The General Investigation Directorate (GDI, or “Al-Mabahith al-'Amma”) succeeded in “pulling the rug from under the feet" of the Grievances Court (or “Diwan Al-Mazalem”), which was preparing charges against a prominent Saudi activist and Al-Reshoudi.

Former judge Sheikh Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi has been jailed without trial since 2007 after he and other activists were arrested after drafting a petition demanding political reforms.

Reshoudi's lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the authorities, demanding they formally charge him or release him and other activists.

The GDI transferred Reshoudi to another "competent tribunal" in Jeddah, prompting the Grievances Court to "dismiss the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction" in its eighth court session on Saturday in Riyadh.

The Ministry’s representative did not attend the court hearing for the third consecutive time (and for the fourth time since the beginning of the court sessions). Yet the Ministry has surprised the defense team and "those interested in public affairs", after sending a "secret" telegram to the Riyadh Grievances Court judge, a few hours before the court session, demanding the transfer of Reshoudi and other activists to a court in Jeddah, as stated in a lengthy statement published on the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association’s website.

According to the testimony of some of the detainee’s relatives, the defense team said that the defendants were transferred to a "villa inside Dhahban prison, wearing hand and leg cuffs, and were presented to a person who did not introduce himself nor specify the institution to which he is affiliated. The man provided each defendant with a list of the charges against them and asked them to respond to them at the next court hearing."

The defense team was furious with the Interior Ministry, accusing it of "maneuvering", "procrastinating", "escaping", "manipulating" and "circumventing the Grievances Court, on the grounds of referring them to the Specialized Penal Court". It described the trial as a “play set up by the General Investigation Directorate (...) so that the Grievances Court can dismiss the case."

Despite this ruling, the defense team considered that the mere acceptance by the Interior Ministry to try the defendants in court “after stalling for years," demonstrated "the feasibility of litigation before judicial panels", as well as the other "merits of the trial", such as "devoting the right to hold open trials," and the presence of the public and some foreign correspondents, in the absence of the local media.

The verdict comes a week after another message was transmitted in a series of letters that the association says it has sent to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, demanding a trial against the Ministry of the Interior.

The last letter, titled "Evidence Shows That the Saudi Regime Is a Police State Masquerading as a Theocracy", calls for “the establishment of a fact-finding committee to investigate human rights abuses and to hold all perpetrators accountable; including senior princes, judges, investigators, secrete police officers, and employees."

In a separate memorandum, the association also calls for “peaceful political struggle In order to achieve democracy ", and urged " people from all strata and spectra, including all human rights advocates, lawyers, jurists, and concerned citizens, to forge a new alliance”.

“This new coalition must be established according to a reform strategy similar to those practiced by other nations who achieved democracy (...) This is the lifeline that would rescue us from the abyss of the absolute police-state”, the association added.

Translated by Nesrine Trabelsi.



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