Amnesty urges France pressure to save 7 Saudis facing execution
Amnesty International on Thursday urged French President Emmanuel Macron to pressure the visiting crown prince of the kingdom to spare seven young men facing execution for crimes committed while minors.
Activists want Macron to underline the importance of human rights in his talks Friday with Mohammed bin Salman, who is still facing criticism over the 2018 murder of critical figure Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
Amnesty said it was particularly important Macron brought up the case of the young men, mostly from Saudi's Shia minority.
They are "at risk of imminent execution" after an appeals court confirmed their punishment, said the group.
The seven men were children under the age of 18, including one who was 12 years old, at the time of the alleged crimes.
"Amnesty International will do everything to ask that this French president -- who seems to enjoy the company of this prince -- makes an effort and that he asks that these young people are never going be executed," Amnesty's secretary general Agnes Callamard told AFP.
Six of them were sentenced on terrorism-related charges, the seventh for armed robbery and murder, after unfair trials marred by "torture-tainted" confessions, said Amnesty.
"They may have committed crimes, and not all of them, but you can't condemn people to death for their opinion. It's scandalous. President Macron must intervene to save their lives," she said.
One of the world's top executioners, Saudi Arabia in 2022 executed 196 people, the highest number of annual executions that Amnesty International has recorded in the country in the last 30 years.
In a former role, Callamard led the UN probe into the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which concluded that Riyadh was responsible. The visit by bin Salman left a "very bitter taste", she said.
She lashed out at the welcome given by the French president to the prince -- known as MBS.
"He (Macron) is the main architect of the re-legitimisation of the Saudi prince since 2018 and the murder of Khashoggi," she said.