Saudi Judge to Jailed Activist: You Need a Lawyer? Aren't You a Man?

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

The third session of Umar Al-Saeed's trial took place yesterday [August 18] in Buraidah, Saudi Arabia. Umar Al-Saeed, a member of the Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), was detained on April 28 for refusing to attend an interrogation session without his lawyer.

As in the second session, Umar Al-Saeed was kept handcuffed. He complained from the pain handcuffs cause, but the judge, Eisa Al-Matroudi, refused to have them removed.

When attendees started entering the court room, the judge ordered officers to surround Al-Saeed and refused that his representatives, Abdullah Al-Saeed and Eisa Al-Hamed, sit next to him. Furthermore, he refused the representatives sit next to each other.

The judge asked Al-Saeed, the youngest member of ACPRA arrested so far, about one of the charges, “Criticizing the rulers”; Umar Al-Saeed tried conferring with his representatives. “Why do you need your representatives’ help to answer? Aren't you a man?” The judge provocatively asked. Umar then refused to answer demanding the maltreatment ends. Umar Al-Saeed has complained before from maltreatment by the interrogator.

During trial, one of the attendees, Mohammad Al-Rabiah [@mohad_f], told the judge it's illegal he asks the defendant and his representatives not to confer. The judge called Al-Rabiah to sit near him and gave him the law of criminal procedure asking him to pinpoint the articles that prevent the judge from doing so.

Another attendee, Muhammad Al-Ahmad, was kicked out:

In Umar Al-Saeed's trial, the judge kicked me out for chewing gum! Strangely, he didn't talk to me, but an officer said it was the judge's order.


Bayan Al-Bjadi [@Urooobh_] and Jinan Al-Ghaith [@JMNG6] were not allowed to attend the trial. The officers told them the judge doesn't allow women in and tried to get them to go home. The women refused and waited outside till the trial was over.

Bayan tweeted:

Even though we couldn't enter the court, but it's like we did. And I will attend again and again until they allow us.

It's not the first time that judges barred women from attending trials. Some Twitter users saw this a systematic discrimination against women by the judicial system:

Persistence is when women in my country go to trials they know they won't be allowed to enter because of the judiciary's discrimination against women.

According to attendees, the judge asked the representatives to demand his replacement saying he wants to leave this case. He was so irritated that he didn't set a date for the next session. No records were signed by the defendant and representatives.

Six more members of the Civil and Political Rights Association remain in jail in Saudi Arabia. One of them, Mohammad Al-Bjadi, was released on August 6 and re-arrested on August 14 for no apparent reason.

This post is part of our Special Coverage: Reformists on Trial in Saudi Arabia

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