Saudi blogger: Re-trial not under pressure

Raif Badawi clarified on his wife’s Twitter page

A Saudi man convicted of insulting Islam and jailed 10 years has said a decision by the Gulf kingdom’s top court to retry him was not made under international pressure.

Early this month, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court asked the criminal court in the Western Red Sea port of Jeddah to re-try Raif Badawi following international criticism of the sentence which also included 1,000 lashes in public.

“Some people say that the Supreme Court has decided to re-try me because of pressure…this is not true because I made a request for re-trial before I was flogged,” Badawi said on his wife’s Twitter page, according to the Saudi ‘Ajel’ newspaper.

Badawi, who has hit headlines worldwide following his sentence, was flogged 50 times last month under a court order for 50 lashes every week over a period of 20 weeks. But authorities postponed lashings in the following weeks because of world reactions which included protests in Canada.

The defendant, whose wife and four children live in Canada, has already spent nearly three years in prison following his sentencing in 2012.

Badawi was lashed in public near a mosque just after Friday’s open air prayers in the Western Red Sea port of Jeddah, where a large crowd gathered to watch the lashing.

Badawi, founder of ‘the free Saudi liberals’ website, was arrested in July 2012 and charged of insulting Islam and plotting to undermine the regime.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison but an appeals court stiffened the verdict to 10 years, ordered him lashed 1,000 times and fined SR1 million (Dh1m).
 

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