HUMAN rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to stay a sentence of 40 lashes handed down against a 75-year-old woman for breaching the kingdom's sex segregation rules.
"The minister of the interior (Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz) is reported to have ordered the immediate detention and flogging of a 75-year-old woman, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, along with two Saudi Arabian men known only as Fahad and Hadyan," the London-based watchdog said.
"The Saudi Arabian authorities must not carry out the imminent flogging and imprisonment of an elderly woman and two younger men."
Amnesty said all avenues of appeal had been exhausted in Saudi courts against the trio's March conviction for being in the company of members of the opposite sex who were not close relatives.
"We urge the authorities to prevent the imprisonment and flogging of Khamisa, Fahad and Hadyan."
Sawadi and Fahad were sentenced to 40 lashes and four months' imprisonment, and Hadyan to 60 lashes and six months' imprisonment, Amnesty said.
Sawadi also faces deportation to her native Syria on completion of her prison term.
Saudi Arabia enforces a strict version of Islamic sharia law and imposes corporal punishment for a wide variety of offences.