Saudi Arabia sentences outspoken Shi'ite cleric to death: brother

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 15, 2014 4:00 AM

RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi judge on Wednesday sentenced to death an outspoken Shi'ite Muslim cleric whose arrest two years ago prompted deadly protests, the cleric's brother said on his Twitter account.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was detained in July 2012 after backing mass protests that erupted in February 2011 in the Qatif district of eastern Saudi Arabia, which is home to many of the Sunni-ruled country's Shi'ite minority.

Last year a prosecutor said he was seeking to convict Nimr for "aiding terrorists" and "waging war on God", which carry the death penalty. The former interior minister Prince Ahmed had previously accused Nimr of being "mentally unbalanced".

His capture, during which he was shot and wounded by police, prompted several days of protests in which three people were killed. Protests have continued sporadically in Qatif, where more than 20 people have died in violence since 2011.

(Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Dominic Evans)