Saudi women's activists stand trial nearly a year after detention

Oct 2010
SA is one of the most backwards, brutal nations on earth .... imo.

Saudi women's activists stand trial nearly a year after detention
Saudi's prosecution has not specified charges against activists, who stand trial after almost year of imprisonment.
Ten Saudi Arabian women stood trial on Wednesday for the first time since they were detained last year in a case that has intensified global scrutiny of the kingdom's human rights record following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.​
Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, Eman al-Nafjan and Hatoon Al-Fassi were among the women appearing before the Criminal Court in the capital, Riyadh, where charges were presented against them, court president Ibrahim al-Sayari said.​
He was speaking to reporters and diplomats, who were barred from attending the session.​
The women are among about a dozen prominent activists who were arrested last May in the weeks before a ban on women driving cars in the conservative kingdom was lifted....​
Al-Hathloul's brother tweeted late on Tuesday that the family had been informed that the trial had been moved to the criminal court from the Specialised Criminal Court, which was set up to try "terrorism" cases but is often used for political offences. It was not clear what was behind the decision.​
The kingdom's public prosecution has still not specified the charges. According to Amnesty International, al-Hathloul had no access to legal representation.​
"We fear she will be charged and tried on terrorism-related charges for peaceful human rights work," Amnesty tweeted.​
...Last week, three dozen countries, including all 28 European Union members, called on Riyadh to release the activists, in a rare censure of the wealthy oil-rich kingdom at the UN Human Rights Council....​
Activists say some of the detainees, including al-Hathloul, were held in solitary confinement and subjected to mistreatment and torture, including electric shocks, flogging and sexual assault. Saudi officials have denied those allegations.​
...Al-Hathloul, who had advocated an end to the driving ban and the kingdom's male guardianship system, was previously detained twice, including for 73 days in 2014 after she attempted to drive into Saudi Arabia from the neighbouring United Arab Emirates.​
The University of British Columbia graduate was ranked third by Arabian Business magazine in the list of top most powerful Arab women in 2015 in recognition of her fearless activism.​
Al-Nafjan and al-Yousef participated in a protest against the driving ban in 2013. Al-Yousef also authored a petition, which al-Nafjan and al-Hathloul signed, in 2016 seeking to end male guardianship, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for any major life decisions.​

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