A Lebanese man charged with sorcery and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia is scheduled to be beheaded on Friday, the man’s lawyer said Wednesday.
May El Khansa, the attorney for Ali Hussain Sibat, told CNN that she and Sibat’s family were informed about the upcoming execution. She said she heard from a source in Saudi Arabia with knowledge of the case and the proceedings that Saudi authorities “will carry out the execution.”
The Saudi Ministry of Justice could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter.
El Khansa said she has appealed to Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, and president, Michel Suleiman, to stop the execution. Amnesty International, the human rights group, has called on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to block it as well.
TV presenter gets death sentence for ‘sorcery’
Sibat is the former host of a popular call-in show that aired on Beirut-based satellite TV channel “Sheherazade.” According to his lawyer, Sibat would predict the future on his show and give out advice to his audience.
El Khansa told CNN her client was arrested by Saudi Arabia’s religious police (known as the Mutawa’een) and charged with sorcery while visiting the country in May 2008. Sibat was in Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic religious pilgrimage known as Umra.
Sibat was then put on trial, and in November 2009, a court in the Saudi city of Medina found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
According to El Khansa, Sibat appealed the verdict. The case was taken up by the Court of Appeal in the Saudi city of Mecca on the grounds that the initial verdict was “premature.”
El Khansa tells CNN that the Mecca appeals court then sent the case back to the original court for reconsideration, stipulating that all charges made against Sibat needed to be verified and that he should be given a chance to repent.
On March 10, judges in Medina upheld their initial verdict, meaning Sibat is once again sentenced to be executed.
“The Medina court refused the sentence of the appeals court,” said El Khansa, adding her client will appeal the verdict once more.