The Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on Tuesday began the first session to put on trial 13 Saudi women accused of incitement and participating in rallies and riots in Buraidah, in addition to burning the photo of a senior state official.
The session was held in the presence of the public prosecutor, two of some of the defendants’ proxies, representative of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, and the media. The 13 accused women on trial were all absent as they are at large and not in detention.
The female defendants face several charges including incitement and participation in rallies and riots demanding the release of detainees involved in terrorist activities and crimes.
In March 2013, Qassim police arrested 161 people, including 15 women, after they refused to respond to instructions from authorities to end their illegally staged rally, despite attempts by security members for more than 12 hours to do so.
The accused were illegally gathered in front of the premises of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution branch in Buraidah, in Qassim Province, in a bid to sway public opinion by exploiting the cases of a number of detainees involved in terrorist activities and crimes affiliated with deviant and terrorist groups.
The rallies led by these women continued for a whole month, and authorities tried with total tolerance and patience to deal with the women who raised banners demanding the release of the detainees and burned a photo of a senior state official. They also filmed these rallies and posted them on social media networks.
The women were arrested at the time and their case was referred to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, then to the court where they were released on bail.
Within two months of the incident, two of the women were arrested trying to leave the Kingdom and join Al-Qaeda terrorist group in Yemen. The women were passing through a mountainous area near the Saudi-Yemeni borders in Jazan region accompanied by six of their children, without the consent or knowledge of their guardians. They were referred to trial, and prison sentences were issued against them.