Saudi Arabia: Trial of ten Nubian Egyptians postponed for two months
The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia decided to postpone the trial of ten Egyptian Nubian citizens for a period of two months. The men have been charged with spreading false and malicious rumours on social media, and establishing an unlicensed association, in violation of their rights to freedom of expression and association.
On 24 January 2022, the SCC in Riyadh held its third hearing in the trial of ten Egyptian Nubian citizens. They are:
- Adel Sayed Ibrahim Fakir, 65 years, current head of the Nubian community in Riyadh, who is from the village of Ballana in southern Egypt. He is an accountant.
- Dr. Farajallah Ahmed Yousif, former head of the Nubian community in Riyadh.
- Jamal Abdullah Masri, head of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
- Mohammed Fathallah Jumaa, 37 years, member of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh. He is an IT engineer.
- Hashim Shater, member of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
- Ali Jumaa Ali Bahr, 37 years, member of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
- Saleh Jumaa Ahmed, member of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
- Abdulsalam Juma Ali, member of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
- Abdullah Jumaa Ali Bahr, 43 years, President of the Dahmit Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
10. Wael Ahmed Hassan, head of the Thomas Nubian Village Association in Riyadh.
The lawyer appointed by the court read the defense statement for the ten defendants who supported the stated facts and signed the document. The lawyer mentioned that the confessions had been extracted from his clients under duress, but the Public Prosecution objected to that claim, so the court decided to strike it off from the defense list of evidence. The judge did not allow the families of the ten defendants to attend the court hearing, even though a number of the defendants appointed members of their families to represent them during the trial.
At the previous session of the trial, held on 10 November 2021, the defendants wrote their own defense statements during the session and handed them before the judge to the assigned lawyer. The first hearing, held in early September 2021, consisted only of the reading of the charges against the ten men after they had spent more than a year in prison.
The charges brought against them include the following: supporting a banned political group (the Muslim Brotherhood), spreading false and malicious rumours on social media, especially Facebook, and violating the law by establishing an unlicensed association.
They are being held in Asir Prison in the city of Abha, the administrative headquarters and capital of the Asir region, where they have been prevented from receiving family visits. Some of them suffer from chronic diseases due to their old age and the large distance they have to travel between Abha and Riyadh, which is 950km, to attend the court.
On 14 and 15 July 2020, the General Directorate of Investigation (Al-Mabahith), which represents the secret police and is affiliated with the Presidency of State Security, re-arrested the ten Egyptian citizens in Riyadh. They had previously been arrested on 25 October 2019 prior to a public symposium they intended to organise.
Once again, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the continued detention and trial of ten Egyptian nationals, who have been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for more than a year before their trial, in violation of their right to peaceful assembly. GCHR demands their immediate and unconditional release.
The Saudi authorities should make every effort to protect the existence of minorities, their national or ethnic identity, and their cultural, religious, and linguistic identity, and to create conditions that reinforce this identity and enable them to carry out their peaceful activities without any harassment or arbitrary measures.