Skip to main content

Family fights to win stay of Saudi execution

The family of Mousa al-Zahrani say he was convicted in 2014 in what they described as a sham trial and are trying to stop his execution
Image of Mousa al-Zahrani declaring his innocence in a YouTube video

A Saudi teacher who was convicted of sex crimes will be executed on Monday, according to family members who contend his trial was a sham.

Mousa al-Zahrani is scheduled to be executed on Monday in secret at a Saudi prison.

The family of al-Zahrani said he was convicted in 2014 in what they described as a sham trial. Since his family have been working to bring media attention to the case in hopes of halting the execution.

One of al-Zahrani’s relatives said he believes that officials behind the case are taking advantage of the current government transition and changes in leadership to carry out the execution despite an order to stay the execution by the previous king.

Al-Zahrani, who is married with six children, was accused of the sexual assault and rape of several young girls, a charge he and his family have strongly denied.

After he was sentenced to be executed, in April 2014, al-Zahrani posted a video declaring his innocence and asking for a review of the verdict and the entire case.

“I plead my innocence and swear to God that neither my religion nor my education, knowledge, age, fatherhood or upbringing allow me to even think of committing such an act, which can only come from ribald and mentally ill people,” he said in his video.

“I strongly deny all that I am accused of,” he said. “It is all unjust fabrication of the truth. The accusations I am being subjected to are not acceptable in our religion. They are malicious and have been magnified and manipulated.”

Wael Jawaherji, al-Zahrani’s previous lawyer, also backs his claims of innocence.

“I am 100 percent convinced he is innocent,” he told Arab News. “I would not have taken up his case had I not been convinced of his innocence.”

Al-Zahrani’s family also complained to King Abdullah about the case and gained a stay to his execution order and a promise to re-open the investigation. This stay, according to family members, has been in place for 4 to 5 months.

But on the day King Abdullah died, the family said it was notified by police insiders that an order has been reissued for an expedited beheading on Monday, 26 January. The family said it was notified by sympathetic police officers, who leaked the secret order to them.

Apparently only the Saudi king can stop the execution.