Judge Abdulaziz Al-Harthy of the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh has presided over trials of peaceful activists, including Muslim scholar and reformer Salman Alodah and others, thus enforcing prima facie unjust laws that criminalize dissent. He has served on the judicial panel hearing Alodah's case since 2018, and he also judges the cases of many other political detainees at the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh.
"Al-Harthy is using politicized anti-terrorism laws to abuse rights defenders and others deemed a threat to the Saudi government's absolute rule," said Abdullah Alaoudh, Gulf Director at DAWN and a son of Salman Alodah. Alodah has been jailed since September 2017 for charges that include "expressing cynicism about the government's achievements" and "claiming that the Saudi monarchy monopolizes wealth." Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb has asked for the death penalty.
For the last decade, judges have used the the Specialized Criminal Court as a venue to suppress speech and dissent by convicting peaceful activists of terrorism-related charges.
Al-Harthy is personally responsible for serious due process violations during Alodah's trial. At multiple hearings, al-Harthy refused to allow Alodah's lawyer to speak in court. Al-Harthy also interrupted Alodah, asking him not to speak and defend himself. At one hearing, in an unprecedented move, al-Harthy and his colleagues proceeded in hearing Alodah's case in his absence, while Alodah remained in his prison cell. Al-Harthy and his colleagues have repeatedly delayed the trial proceedings and issued multiple postponements without justification, allowing several months to elapse between hearings, despite telling Alodah that they would issue a verdict back in 2019. Alodah's trial began in September 2018, one year after he was arrested and detained.
"No judge should preside over a case in which a defendant faces the death penalty for charges that include common-sense statements like the claim that the Saudi leadership monopolizes wealth," Alaoudh said. "Al-Harthy and his colleagues are part of a cynical dismantling of the Saudi justice system."
Judge Abdulaziz bin Safar al-Adhiani Al-Beniusi al-Harthy was born in Taif City in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, al-Harthy obtained a master's degree from Imam Muhammad bin Saud University, according to records in the King Fahad National Library. In May 2020, al-Harthy obtained a PhD in comparative jurisprudence from the Judicial High Institute, an institute that trains judges in Saudi Arabia.
See the case: Salman Alodah
DAWN contacted al-Harthy via the Saudi authorities on December 9, 2020 to request a response, but no response was received by the time of publication.
Watch the video on Abdulaziz Al-Harthy here:
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