Washington, April 26 (IANS) Long before Saudi Arabia announced it had carried out one of the largest mass executions in its history earlier this week, some of the men condemned to death said they were innocent and their confessions had been written by the same people who had tortured them, a media report said on Friday.
While making impassioned pleas to the courts in a bid to save their lives, the men claimed to have evidence of their abuse at the hands of their interrogators, the CNN report said.
However, none of these arguments swayed the judges overseeing their trials in 2016, and the suspects were convicted of terror-related crimes and sentenced to death.
On Tuesday, Riyadh announced that 37 men had been executed, including three who were minors when the Kingdom said they carried out their crimes. One of the men was crucified after his execution, strung up and put on display as a warning to others.
CNN has obtained hundreds of pages of documents from three 2016 trials involving 25 of the men whose executions were announced this week.
Eleven were found guilty of spying on behalf of Iran and another 14 were convicted of forming a “terror cell” during anti-government protests in the largely Shia city of Awamiya in 2011 and 2012. Most of them were from Saudi Arabia’s minority Shia community.
When the UN raised concerns in 2017 that torture had been used to obtain the confessions in that case, the Saudi government responded with a letter denying the claims and stating that the men had stood by their admissions of guilt in court.
But the documents obtained by CNN show that some of the men in the Awamiya case repeatedly told the court that the admissions were false and had been obtained through torture.
In some cases, the suspects said they had provided nothing more than their thumbprints to sign off on confessions which they claimed had been written by their torturers.
“Those aren’t my words… I didn’t write a letter. This is defamation written by the interrogator with his own hand,” said Munir al-Adam, one of the men executed on Tuesday, according to the documents.
Saudi Arabia is yet to comment on this development.
According to Amnesty International and some Saudi activists, families were not informed in advance of the executions.
Saudi Arabia has one of the highest death penalty rates in the world. It previously carried out a mass execution of 47 people in January 2016, including Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric.
The executed prisoners were accused of terrorism and having extremist ideology.