November 1, 2006

Saudi King Abdullah pardoned Hadi Al Mutif just weeks after receiving a letter from Human Rights Watch detailing the serious violations of fair trial standards to which Al Mutif had been subjected. In a phone call to Human Rights Watch from his prison cell, Al Mutif described to us how the judges in his case had disparaged him for belonging to the minority Isma’ili creed and failed to grant him a fair trial. At various points, the judges denied Al Mutif the right to legal representation, turned a blind eye to his torture by Saudi investigators, and closed the trial to the public without good cause.

Describing these abuses and calling for Al Mutif’s pardon, our letter drew international attention to the case, particularly by the U.S. State Department, and highlighted the issue of discrimination against Isma’ilis. Al Mutif spent fourteen years in prison and was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad, but is now scheduled for release. Encouraged by this positive movement, Human Rights Watch will continue to call on the Saudi government to stop judicial discrimination against minorities in the kingdom.