Thursday, February 14, 2008
Rights Group Wants Saudis To Commute Death Sentence of Convicted "Witch"
Today's International Herald Tribune reports that Human Rights Watch is calling on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to stop the execution of Fawza Falih who has been convicted of witchcraft and of performing supernatrual occurrences. (HRW letter.) After the religious police arrested Faliah, she was convicted in April 2006 by a court in the town of Quraiyat on the basis of her coerced confession and statements of witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them. At trial, Falih was unable to cross-examine witnesses against her, and the court did not define "witchcraft". An appellate court in September 2006 said Falih could not be sentenced to death because she had retracted her confession. Nevertheless, the lower court re-sentenced her to death on a "discretionary" basis, for the benefit of "public interest" and to "protect the creed, souls and property of this country." The court cited evidence that a man allegedly became impotent after being bewitched by Falih, and that a divorced woman reportedly returned to her ex-husband during the month predicted by Falih who allegedly cast a spell.