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After torture and solitary confinement, Saudi female activist Loujain al-Hathloul to stand trial this week Open in fullscreen

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After torture and solitary confinement, Saudi female activist Loujain al-Hathloul to stand trial this week

The 29-year-old has been held in solitary confinement [Facebook]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2019

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Loujain Hathloul, 29, has been held in solitary confinement and subjected to mistreatment and torture will stand trial this week.
A prominent Saudi women’s right activist will stand trial this week, her family said on Twitter.

Loujain Hathloul, 29, has been held in solitary confinement and subjected to mistreatment and torture, including electric shocks, flogging, and sexual assault, reports claim.

“My sister @LoujainHathloul will be having her first trial session next Wednesday at 8am at the specialised court in Riyadh. This is the court (that) deals with terrorism cases,” her brother Walid wrote on Sunday.

The activist was not allowed to have a lawyer and had not been provided a list of indictments, her brother added.

Hathloul was among a group of Saudi women activists who were detained last year and reportedly been subjected to torture. The activists will be put on trial for "undermining the kingdom's security”, Saudi authorities said.

The Saudi Press Agency made the announcement in a brief statement earlier this month, without directly identify the defendants as women activists or giving a date for court proceedings.

"The public prosecution would like to announce that it has concluded its investigation and prepared the indictment list against the defendants... and will refer the case to the relevant court," the SPA statement said.

"The public prosecutor would like to affirm that all detainees in this case enjoy all rights preserved by the laws in the kingdom,"

More than a dozen activists were arrested in May last year in a sweeping crackdown on campaigners - just before the historic lifting of a decades-long ban on women drivers the following month.

Many of them were accused of undermining security and aiding enemies of the state. Some were subsequently released.

Some of those detained have been subjected to caning, electrocution and sexual assault, rights groups and their family members say.

The Saudi government has denied the allegations despite piling evidence.

The government statement drew sharp criticism from rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the UN.

"These women's rights activists should be released from detention for their peaceful activism not referred to trial," said Amnesty's Samah Hadid, the organisation's Middle East campaigns director.

Last week, three dozen countries, including all 28 EU members, called on Riyadh to release the activists, the first rebuke of the kingdom at the UN Human Rights Council since it was set up in 2006.

Those still detained include Aziza al-Yousef, a retired professor at Riyadh's King Saud University, and Loujain al-Hathloul - who was held in 2014 for more than 70 days for attempting to drive from neighbouring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia.

Following their arrest, state-backed newspapers published front-page pictures of some of the activists with the word "traitor" stamped across them in red.

The kingdom also faces widespread international criticism over the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October, allegedly by members of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's entourage, as well as over its war in Yemen.

--With agencies--

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