International fury over Saudi Arabia's plans to behead woman accused of being a witch
Last updated at 22:21pm on 14th February 2008
Saudi Arabia's religious police plan to behead a woman accused of being a witch, a human rights group said yesterday.
Human Rights Watch has asked the country's king to intervene over "absurd charges that have no basis in law".
Fawza Falih was arrested and interrogated in the northern town of Quraiyat two years ago and was sentenced to death.
The judges who convicted her relied on her forced confession and the statements of witnesses who said she had "bewitched" them.
One man claimed that he became impotent after Falih cast a spell on him.
Witchcraft is considered an offence against Islam in the conservative kingdom.
Falih retracted her confession in court, saying it was extracted under duress and that she could not understand the document because she is illiterate.
The death sentence was lifted on appeal, but reimposed in the name of "public interest" shortly afterwards.
Joe Stork, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "The fact that Saudi judges still conduct trials for unprovable crimes like 'witchcraft' underscores their inability to carry out objective criminal investigations.
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And THEN they ask in bewildered wonderment why we do not trust them with nuclear weapons!?