Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

URGENT ACTION for juvenile offenders at imminent risk of execution in Saudi Arabia

Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon
Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon
Two Saudi Arabian Shi’a activists, arrested when they were under 18 years old, risk being executed as soon as the King ratifies their death sentences. They were moved to solitary confinement on 5 October and have been held incommunicado since then.

Shi’a activists Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher and Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon were moved to solitary confinement in al-Ha’ir prison on 5 October, where they have since been held incommunicado. They were sentenced to death on 22 October 2014 by the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in the capital, Riyadh, which had convicted them of offences that included “participating in the marches and gatherings of the Awamiyya riots”, “chanting slogans against the State with the intent of destabilizing the security of the country and overturning its system of government”, “participating in killing of police officers by making and using Molotov cocktails to attack them” and “carrying out an armed robbery”.

Throughout their pre-trial detention, both activists were denied access to their lawyer, who was only allowed to meet them at the second court hearing. Both the appeal court and the Supreme Court upheld their sentences earlier this year, without telling them.

Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon were arrested on 3 March and 22 May 2012, when they were 16 and 17 years old respectively. Both were taken to the juvenile rehabilitation centre (Dar al-Mulahaza) in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, where they were held until they reached the age of 18. They were then moved to the General Directorate of Investigations (GDI) prison in Damman. They were interrogated without access to a lawyer and state that they were tortured by GDI officers to force them to “confess”.


Saudi Arabia is one of the most prolific executioners in the world, putting more than 2,200 people to death between 1985 and 2015. So far this year it has executed at least 136 people, almost half of them for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” for which the death penalty can be imposed under international law.

Names: Dawood al-Marhoon, Abdullah al-Zaher
Gender m/f: m
UA: 229/15 Index: MDE 23/2671/2015 Issue Date: 15 October 2015

Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact!

Send a short email to uan@aiusa.org with “UA 229/15” in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent.

Thank you for taking action! Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if taking action after the appeals date. If you receive a response from a government official, please forward it to us at uan@aiusa.org .


Please write immediately in English, Arabic or your own language:
  • Urging the authorities to quash the conviction and death sentence of Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher and Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon, and ensure that they are retried in line with international law and standards and without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Calling on them to order an independent investigation into the men’s allegations of torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Reminding them that Saudi Arabia is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by anyone below the age of 18;
  • Urging them to establish immediately an official moratorium on all executions with a  view to abolishing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.


King and Prime Minister
His Majesty Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
The Custodian of the two Holy Mosques
Office of His Majesty the King
Royal Court, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: (via Ministry of the Interior)
+966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Twitter: @KingSalman
Salutation: Your Majesty

Minister of Interior
His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud
Minister of Interior
Ministry of the Interior, P.O. Box 2933, Airport Road, Riyadh 11134 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 403 3125 (please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
President, Human Rights Commission
Bandar Mohammed ‘Abdullah al-Aiban
Human Rights Commission
PO Box 58889, Riyadh 11515
King Fahd Road
Building No. 3, Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 11 418 5101

Also send copies to:
Ambassador Adel A. Al-Jubeir, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
601 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20037
Fax: 1 202 944 5983 I Phone: 1 202 342 3800 I Email: info@saudiembassy.net

Please share widely with your networks: http://bit.ly/1GILpw5

We encourage you to share Urgent Actions with your friends and colleagues! When you share with your networks, instead of forwarding the original email, please use the "Forward this email to a friend" link found at the very bottom of this email. Thank you for your activism!

UA Network Office AIUSA │600 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC 20003
T. 202.509.8193 │ F. 202.509.8193 │E. uan@aiusa.org │amnestyusa.org/urgent 

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Three Hand Amputations, Four Hangings Carried Out in Qom

Iran: Woman Asylum Seeker Lashed 80 Times After Being Deported From Norway

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Iran: Three executions carried out, two in front of large crowds

Gambia: President Barrow Signs Abolition Of Death Penalty Treaty

Two Myanmar migrants make final appeal in Koh Tao murder case

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret

Texas Child Killer John Battaglia Found Competent for Execution

Iran: More Public Executions, Prisoner Hanged While Crowd Watched

Poorly executed - Indiana inmate challenges state's lethal cocktail change