Saudi authorities appear set in the next few days to carry out a series of beheadings across the country of more than 50 men convicted of terrorism offenses. Among those facing execution are three young men who were juveniles when they were arrested. The publication earlier this week of an article in the newspaper Okaz, which has close links to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, has convinced families of the accused and concerned human-rights organizations that the executions are imminent. Sources have said that the plan is to behead the men in several cities across the kingdom, most likely after Friday prayers. Already this year Saudi Arabia has carried out at least 151 beheadings but these would be the first that deal with allegations of terrorism. Last year a total of 90 were executed but none were for terrorism offenses. It is believed that seven of the condemned men are Shia from the region of Al-Awamiyah in the oil-rich Eastern Province. Saudi Shia have long protested over discrimination and mistreatment by the Sunni central government. A leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, arrested in a shootout with security forces in 2012, is among those thought to be facing execution. The mothers of five Shia released a letter on Wednesday alleging that their sons, three of whom were juveniles at the time of their arrest, were subjected to torture while in custody. The letter says: “We affirm that our children did not kill or wound anyone. The sentences were based on confessions extracted under torture, trials that barred them from access to defense counsel and judges that displayed bias towards the prosecution.” Baqer al Nimr, the older brother of Ali al Nimr and a nephew of Sheikh Nimr, told The Independent his brother was 17 and a juvenile when he was detained in February 2011. “Ali is a smart kid, he likes to play football, he is a photographer. He wasn’t political, he was just asking for his rights, for the rights of the Shia.” Six months after the arrest, he saw Ali in jail. “I could see his nose was broken and I asked him what happened. He said ‘they punch everybody in here’.” Ali’s mother told Baqer that when she had first seen her younger son “she saw a lot of bruising on his face, she told me she didn’t recognize him”. Saudi authorities consistently dismiss such claims. Sevag Kechichian, Amnesty International’s researcher on the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Denials are absolutely not enough when there is clear evidence that points to the contrary.” He called for a thorough and impartial investigation of the torture allegations: “These executions should not happen. Amnesty International is against the death penalty in all circumstances.”