RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Prominent Shiite cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr has been sentenced to death, his family announced Wednesday.
"This sentence is totally political and came after 13 sessions in Riyadh and Jeddah courts," the family said in a statement posted online.
"At this time, we assure our objection to this sentence and we ask the Court of Cassation to repeal it totally..."
The circumstances of his 2012 arrest are disputed, with officials claiming al-Nimr rammed a Saudi security forces vehicle during a car chase, prompting authorities to shoot the cleric four times in the leg. His family denounced the official account, insisting al-Nimr did not resist arrest. Al-Nimr was held for eight months without charge.
He was ultimately charged with "encouraging" Shiite minority protests in Saudi Arabia and dissident Shiite protests in Bahrain. At the start of his trial in March 2013, prosecutors called for al-Nimr to be executed by crucifixion.
No protests were reported following the verdict, although residents in Awwamiya and al-Qatif suggested protests might be held in the evening.