Beirut Lebanon (CNN) – Long before Saudi Arabia announced it had carried out one of the largest mass executions in its history earlier this week, some of the men condemned to death had made impassioned pleas to the courts in a bid to save their lives.
Many said they were totally innocent, that their confessions had been written by the same people who had tortured them. Some claimed to have evidence of their abuse at the hands of their interrogators. And one reaffirmed loyalty to King Salman and his son, Mohammed bin Salman, in hopes of getting leniency from the court, trial documents show.
On Tuesday, Riyadh announced that 37 men had been executed, including three who were minors when the kingdom said they carried out their crimes. One of the men was crucified after his execution, strung up and put on display as a warning to others.
The youngest of the executed men was Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, according to Amnesty International. He was charged with participating in violent protests at the age of 16, and his death sentence sparked an outcry from the United Nations, which had urged the kingdom to overturn the ruling.
Another was Mujtaba al-Sweikat, who was 17 when he took part in demonstrations that would lead to his arrest in 2012. He was detained at an airport in Dammam as he was preparing to board a plane to the United States, where he was set to enroll at Western Michigan University.
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