Saudi Arabian national Abdullah al-Howaiti, who is now 20, was 14-years-old when he was arrested in connection to a jewelry store raid – but CCTV footage showed him playing football at the time of the heist
A young man, 20, is still stuck on death row since he was 14-years-old for crime he didn’t commit.
Campaigners say a gunman seen in video of a robbery in Saudi Arabia in which a policeman was killed cannot be the 14-year-old boy currently on death row for the killing.
Human rights charity, Reprieve, claims the machine gun-toting attacker is clearly a professional thief and not teenager, Abdullah al-Howaiti, now 20.
According to court documents, CCTV footage shows the youngster was playing football with friends on the beach at the time of the £165,000 jewelery shop raid and for an hour afterwards, when the killer was making his getaway.
Abdullah’s family said he confessed under severe torture, which included his feet getting whipped and being made to stand for hours until he passed out.
The young man could be executed any day if his death sentence, which is now being considered by the Supreme Court, is upheld.Abdullah al-Howaiti, on death row, is now 20
Reprieve has released a video of the 2017 robbery which it claims shows the gunman was too tall to be 14-year-old boy, Abdullah,
Jeed Basyouni, who leads Reprieve’s Middle East and North Africa work, said: “It couldn’t be clearer watching the footage that this is a professional thief, not a 14 year old kid.
“The man in this security camera footage is carrying a machine gun as well as a handgun as he robs more than £165,000 in gold and then steals a police car to flee the scene of the crime.Human rights organisation Reprieve says the thief was a professional, and couldn’t be the child in prison
“Court documents also confirm that CCTV cameras show that Abdullah was playing football on the seafront when the crime took place, so he would have to have been in two places at once to have carried out the offence.
“Put simply, Abdullah couldn’t have committed this crime.”
Video footage shows the gunman bursting into the al-Sa’di jewelery shop in the coastal town of Duba, causing another customer to flee before threatening the shopkeeper who he finds cowering behind the counter.
The gunman is later filmed walking out of the store with a bag full of valuables after shooting dead a policeman who had raced to the scene, and driving off in the officer’s car which was found abandoned 20 miles away.The store owner in disbelief after the robbery
Abdullah’s case was picked up by MPs who wrote to the Saudi Embassy saying it was “causing profound concern in the international community”.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also called for Abdullah’s release.
Earlier this month Abdullah’s family wrote to Lewis Hamilton asking him to speak out about the case on the eve of the Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.According to CCTV footage, the boy was playing football at a beach at the time of the robbery.
“Your voice is more important now than ever. If you say Abdullah’s name, we believe the Saudi authorities will hear you, at this critical juncture in his case,” they said.
“We are sick with worry that our dear boy will be taken from us without warning.
“The regime executes people in secret without their families being given notice or even allowed to say goodbye.”
If followed comments by the seven times championship winner who said Formula One should do more to speak out about human rights issues in countries which hosted its races, such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.’The regime executes people in secret’
“I still feel that as a sport going to places with human rights issues such as this one, the sport is duty bound to raise awareness, and try to leave a positive impact.
“I feel like it needs to do more, what that is I don’t have all the answers”.
Last year the number of people executed by Saudi Arabia was at least 138, which is more than the totals of 2020 and 2021 combined.
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