Mauritania:  Court Upholds Death Penalty against Blogger, Final Decision Lies with Supreme Court

Mauritania: Court Upholds Death Penalty against Blogger, Final Decision Lies with Supreme Court

A Mauritanian court Thursday confirmed death penalty against the 33-year old blogger sentenced to death one year ago after publishing an alleged blasphemous article on Prophet Mohamed. The court upheld the sentence but handed the case over to the Supreme Court after finding him guilty of unfaith.

Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir also known as Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed is a Muslim blogger. He was sentenced to death on December 24, 2014 for publishing on internet an article deemed religiously deviant and against Prophet Mohamed.

A court of appeal in the city of Nouadhibou, North-East of the country, confirmed the sentence on Thursday but decided to hand over the case to the Supreme Court after Mkheitir repented from his action.

Mkheitir’s team of lawyers welcomed the decision even though the death sentence is still pending.

Prior to the Thursday ruling, Amnesty International called on Mauritanian authorities to release immediately the young blogger whom it said was a prisoner of conscience, jailed for exercising peacefully his freedom of speech.

Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s expert for West Africa said Mkheitir in his blog only charged those who use religion unfairly to support discrimination. He further argued that jailing the blogger shows how determined is the Mauritanian regime to crash dissent voices.

Mkheitir is the first Mauritanian to face death sentence for apostasy after independence. Mauritania is an Islamic republic which applies the sharia law but extreme laws such as flogging and death penalties have not been applied for several years.

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