SHAFAQNA – A Saudi Arabian appeals court has upheld the death sentence of the prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, referring his case to King Salman’s office, the cleric’s brother announced.
Mohamed al-Nimr said the death sentence handed to his brother, who has been in detention for nearly three years on political charges, has been referred to King Salman’s office for a final decision.
He strongly warned the Saudi regime against any hasty decision, saying that if King Salman signs the verdict, it will have serious consequences.
Mohamed al-Nimr expressed the hope that the Saudi King would avoid approving the death penalty to prevent the outbreak of unrest in the oil-rich kingdom.
Saudi criminal court had earlier referred Sheikh Nimr’s case to an appeals court, where the sentence was upheld in early March.
Sheikh Nimr was detained in July 2012 following demonstrations that erupted in Qatif region, Saudi Arabia. He is accused of delivering anti-regime speeches and defending political prisoners.
His arrest has sparked widespread protests in the Arab country, leaving several people dead.
Last October, Sheikh Nimr’s family reported that a Saudi judge has found him guilty of “sedition” and sentenced him to death.
Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
International human rights organizations have criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to address the rights situation in the kingdom. They say Saudi Arabia has persistently implemented repressive policies that stifle freedom of expression, association and assembly.