RIYADH – Saudi militants being tried in special courts are allowed to have lawyers to help their defense, the country’s top human rights official said Sunday.
Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the official Saudi Human Rights Commission, said his group was monitoring the trials which opened earlier this year.
“They can choose a lawyer... or the ministry of justice will provide one,” Al-Aiban said in an interview.
On a question about public trial, he said: “We have to be mindful of other dangers,” noting that the government was worried that some defendants would use a public trial as a soapbox to preach radical and violent ideology.
The government has arrested nearly 1,000 people for alleged involvement in Al-Qaeda attacks or plots.
Govt working to curb child marriage
Al-Aiban also said the government was working on new regulations to impose a minimum age for marrying to prevent child weddings. “Although they are very limited, we are worried about cases of children being married,” he said. “This is under serious review... we are discussing what is the appropriate age for marriage,” he said, adding that the minimum age in the new regulations could range from 16 to 18 years old.
In a case that stirred an international outcry late last year, an eight-year-old Saudi girl was sold into marriage with a man in his 50s by her father in exchange for dowry money.
The girl’s mother challenged the marriage in court but it was upheld twice by a judge. – AFP