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Saudi court sentences two more Shi’ite Muslims to death

Source: ABNA
A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced two more people to death in connection with protests by Shia minority that began three years ago, official media said. The latest convictions followed last week’s death sentence against prominent Shia cleric Nimr al Nimr, a driving force behind the demonstrations.

 A special court in the capital Riyadh issued the latest verdicts “as a deterrent to others,” the Saudi Press Agency said late Tuesday.

A third person, named Hyder Ali al Namily, 23, was jailed for 12 years.

SPA named the accused as Dawood Hussain al Marhun, 18, and Abdullah Hassan al Zaher, 17, who allegedly were tried on charges including “participating in marches and rallies that caused riots” in the Eastern Province community of Awamiya.

They were also allegedly accused of “chanting slogans hostile to the state with the intent of breaching security and overthrowing the regime,” attacking security forces, and stealing medical supplies from a pharmacy to treat people injured during protests.

Two people had already been sentenced to death in June for “taking part in forming a terrorist group” and other crimes linked to the Shia demonstrations.

Several others have received multi-year jail sentences. Most of Saudi Arabia’s estimated two million Shias live in the east, where the vast majority of the wealthy kingdom’s oil reserves lie. Many Shias complain of marginalisation and discrimination in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.

They began demonstrating in February 2011 after an outbreak of violence between Shia pilgrims and religious police in the Muslim holy city of Medina in western Saudi Arabia. Protests escalated after the kingdom’s intervention in neighbouring Bahrain to support a Sunni monarchy against an uprising led by the Shia majority.
Hundreds were arrested in Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International.

Tension rose further in July 2012 when security forces arrested the grey-bearded Nimr, who was shot and wounded.
 After the sheikh’s conviction last week, his family accused the court of ignoring his “peaceful and non-violent approach,” saying the case had caused “social and political discontent”.