Saudi Arabia beheads two alleged murderers, marking 31st execution this year
The two Saudis had been found guilty of stabbing relatives, a crime punishable by death in the country. (AFP/File)
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Two Saudis condemned to death for murder in separate cases were beheaded by the sword in Riyadh Sunday, taking to 31 the number of executions in the kingdom this year.
Interior ministry statements published by the official SPA news agency said that both Nawaf al-Shemmari and Saad al-Houzaimi had been found guilty of stabbing relatives.
According to Amnesty, trials in capital cases are often held in secret.
Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said the fact “that people are tortured into confessing to crimes, convicted in shameful trials without adequate legal support and then executed is a sickening indictment of the Kingdom’s state-sanctioned brutality.”
The desert kingdom continues to execute convicts despite pressure from human rights groups.
Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom's legal code that follows a strict Wahhabi version of Sharia.
The Gulf nation executed 87 people in 2014 according to an AFP tally. More than 2,000 people were executed in the kingdom between 1985 and 2013, Amnesty International claimed in a report.
However, not only felonies amount to a death penalty punishment in the oil-rich kingdom. The Saudi terrorism law issued in early 2014 casts a wide net over what it considers to be “terrorism.”
Under the law, punishable offenses include ”calling for atheist thought in any form,” “throwing away loyalty to the country’s rulers,” and “seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion.”
Human Rights Watch urged the Saudi authorities to abolish the Specialized Criminal Court, the body that sentenced five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, and many others to death, saying that analysis revealed “serious due process concerns” such as “broadly framed charges,” “denial of access to lawyers,” and “quick dismissal of allegations of torture without investigation.”