BEIRUT, Lebanon – A Saudi teenager facing a possible execution of actions he was accused of committing as a child has been handed over to a 12-year prison sentence, a human rights group that has overseen his case , said Sunday. 19659002] Last year, the Saudi prosecution sought a death sentence for Murtaja Qureiris, now 18, but the threat of enforcement was first published last week and made international condemnation. The charges filed against the teenager in connection with his participation in anti-allegation protests, some that took place when he was as young as 10. The prosecutors included possession of a firearm and joined a terrorist organization.
The judge who oversees his case has delivered the verdict on Thursday, according to the rights of the European Saudi human rights organization, which has tracked the case for years.
According to the judge, the teenager's lawyer said that instead of the death penalty, he would receive a 12-year sentence that would include the four years he has already earned and four years of probation after his release, meaning he would earn three years in prison.  It is unclear what led to the decision, but rights groups allowed it international pressure on his case.
"This is a political decision after international media have spoken on this matter," said Ali Adubisi, director of the European Saudi Human Rights Organization.
But Mr Adubisi said another hearing was set this week where prosecutors had to argue for a harder punishment and the defense lawyer for a lighter one.
Redundancies are common in Saudi Arabia, which have been accused of targeting the perceived political opponents and members of Shi'ite peoples by the courts. Nevertheless, it is unusual for the authorities to practice any accused of acts committed at such a young age.
Saudi Arabia has defended its use of the death penalty. The predominantly Sunni kingdom has killed 37 men this year, most of them shiites, for "terrorist" activity, and causing "sectarian discord", reported the official Saudi news agency.
Herr. Qureiris was 10 when he helped lead a group of children in a demonstration against the Saudi authorities in the eastern part of the country in 2011, a time when Arab spring protests caused upheavals around much of the Middle East. The Saudi government hit hard-like protests in the eastern, largely Shi'ite, provinces of violence, with violence and mass arrests.
He was arrested three years later in September 2014 and held for nearly four years before his first trial in August last year, the Saudi rights group said. He was originally kept in isolation and deprived of access to a lawyer according to the group.
At least three other young men – Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdulla al-Zaher – are accused of committing crimes as minors and have been sentenced to death, according to UN High Commissioner for human rights.