A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a Palestinian poet to death for apostasy, abandoning his Muslim faith, according to trial documents seen by Human Rights Watch, its Middle East researcher Adam Coogle said on Friday.
Ashraf Fayadh was detained by the country’s religious police in 2013 in Abha, in southwest Saudi Arabia, and then rearrested and tried in early 2014.
The verdict of that court sentenced him to four years in prison and 800 lashes but after appeal another judge passed a death sentence on Fayadh three days ago, said Coogle.
Saudi Arabia’s justice system is based on Sharia Islamic law and its judges are clerics from the kingdom’s ultra conservative Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam. In the Wahhabi interpretation of Sharia, religious crimes including blasphemy and apostasy incur the death penalty.