Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi could face death sentence

Raif BadawiFacebook/Free Raif Badawi

The Saudi blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes over accusations he insulted Islam could now be put on trial for apostasy resulting in a death sentence.

Badawi, 31, currently in jail for ten years, was so seriously injured after the first 50 lashes that the rest of the floggings were postponed.

The writer, activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals was also fined £175,000 for insulting Islam through electronic media.

His wife Ensaf Haider, who does not believe he can survive the floggings if they continue, told Channel 4 News that judges in Saudi Arabia want him retried for apostasy.

In a statement on the official Facebook page for the campaign to release him the family say: "We have received information from reliable sources that there are attempts within the Penal Court to retry #‎Raifbadawi on apostasy charges again. Apostasy charge is punishable under Saudi law with the death penalty by beheading.

"We also received confirmed information that the Supreme Court has referred Raif case to the same judge, who sentenced Raif with flogging and 10 years imprisonment.

"This judge is biased against Raif. He has twice requested that Raif be charged with 'apostasy'. His request was declined at the time on the ground that the Criminal court has no jurisdiction on cases that lead to death penalty. However, due to a new regulation issued by the Supreme Judicial Council on 19.09.2014, the Penal court has now jurisdiction over major cases, which are punishable by the death penalty, amputation and stoning.

"We have reasons to believe without any doubts that the same judge has again asked the Head of the Court of Apeal to charge Raif with 'Apostasy'. It should be mentioned that this judge stated in his written verdict against Raif, that he has proof and is confident that Raif is an apostate.

"We call on the world citizens and governments not to leave Raif dragged by such bigots to death. And we renew our calls to his Majesty King Salman to pardon Raif Badawi and allow him to leave Canada to be united with his family there."

Amnesty International is among the organisations campaigning to help him and has designated him a prisoner of conscience.

Downing Street is expected to raise the issue with Saudia Arabia. The country's interior minister Deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef is understood to have met Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond last Tuesday.