Mohammad Al Jirani Image Credit: Supplied

RIYADH: A Shiite judge abducted in eastern Saudi Arabia a year ago has been killed by his kidnappers, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

Saudi police have recovered the body of a kidnapped Shiite judge after a shoot-out in which a policeman and a suspected militant were killed, the interior ministry said on Monday.

The remains of Judge Mohammad Al Jirani were found on a farm in the town of Awamiya in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, which has been a hotbed of protests among the Shiite minority for years.

The raid took place last Tuesday and subsequent DNA tests confirmed that a body recovered was that of Shaikh Al Jirani, a ministry spokesman told the official Saudi Press Agency.

The ministry named the slain suspect as Salman Al Faraj, adding that he was wanted on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Al Jirani was kidnapped in December 2016 in front of his Awamiya home. The authorities said at the time that they had arrested three suspects.

The judge had been the target of several attacks before his abduction.

In 2011, his house and car were set on fire and members of his family barely escaped the flames. In 2012, his house was attacked again by armed men who failed to capture him.

Al Jirani was critical of the protest movement among his fellow Shiites and accused leading clerics in the community of being too close to Iran and neighbouring Iraq.

He had previously condemned attacks against Saudi security forces and attacked those who seek to involve the country’s youth in protests against the state.

The Shiite community makes up between 10 and 15 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s population of 32 million.