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Rabat OKs Saudi Extradition

FILE: Representative illustration of a courtroom gavel. Taken Jun. 11, 2016.
FILE: Representative illustration of a courtroom gavel. Taken Jun. 11, 2016.

A Moroccan court has ruled in favor of the extradition of a Saudi Shiite from a family of activists, detained since mid-January in the North African kingdom, his lawyer said Thursday.

The Rabat Court of Cassation "unfortunately responded favorably to the request for the extradition of Hassan al-Rabie", his lawyer Mohamed Sebbar told AFP.

"No appeal is possible," he added.

The decision is set to be sent to the the justice minister then the prime minister, who is likely to sign a decree ordering his extradition.

Rabie's brother Ahmed, based in Canada, said there was "no proof" against his sibling and accused Saudi Arabia of "buying" a favourable ruling in the Moroccan courts.

"Hassan will be handed over to a criminal country that will cut off his head," he said.

Hassan al-Rabie, 26, was arrested at Saudi Arabia's request on January 14 as he tried to leave Morocco for Turkey, according to his brother.

The November arrest warrant, seen by AFP, accuses him of "leaving (Saudi Arabia) illegally with the help of a terrorist".

Saudi Arabia frequently accuses antigovernment activists of links to "terrorism."

The Rabie family come from eastern Saudi Arabia, home to a large Shiite community that complains of systematic discrimination by the kingdom's Sunni-dominated authorities.

Ahmed said Riyadh was targeting his brother in order to exert pressure to find a third brother, Munir, an activist.

Saudi Arabia already sentenced to death their older brother Ali in November, allegedly for having helped Munir escape Saudi Arabia, according to MENA Rights Group, a Geneva-based legal advocacy organization.

Rabie faced "well-founded risks of torture... should he be extradited to his country of origin", it added.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has been asked to intervene, citing a possible violation of the principle of non-refoulement by Morocco.

"Non-refoulement" is an international legal understanding forbidding a country holding asylum seekers from sending them back to nations in which those persons may be in danger of death or persecution based on their religion, nationality, political persuasion, or being part of a particular social group.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also urged Morocco not to send him back to Saudi Arabia.

Rare demonstrations took place in eastern Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, followed by violent clashes between protesters and security forces there in 2017.

In March last year, the kingdom executed 81 people in single day, many of them from the Shiite minority - including two of Rabie's cousins, according to MENA Rights Group.