Mauritania’s supreme court has indefinitely postponed its final decision on the fate of Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, convicted of apostasy in January 2014.
The highly anticipated ruling was expected to be given on Tuesday but the Supreme Court decided to commute his death sentence, referring the case to a court of appeal, different from the one that sentenced him to a death sentence.
The date of the new trial is yet to be provided.
It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has postponed the verdict. Last year in December, the case was not rendered as planned due to changes in the judge’s panel of the Supreme Court.
Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir had been charged with apostasy on the basis of an article he had published that criticised Islamic religious beliefs and the conservative religious practices in Mauritania.
His arrest sparked a number of protests in the country, with thousands condemning his writing and even calling for his execution.
In March 2015, six Mauritanian human rights and other nongovernmental organizations and 16 African and other international organizations, called for Mkheitir’s immediate release on the basis that the charges against him violated his right to free expression.
They cited the fact that he had repented twice: in a pretrial hearing at a military police station, and again during his trial in December 2014.
Under Mauritania’s penal code, the Supreme Court has the power to cancel or reduce an apostasy sentence if the convicted person repents