Saudi Arabia to behead seven on Tuesday: rights group

RIYADH Mon Mar 4, 2013 11:03am EST

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is scheduled to execute seven men on Tuesday for crimes committed when they were juveniles aged under 18, the British-based rights group Amnesty International said.

The seven were sentenced to death in 2009 for an armed robbery in 2006, but Amnesty quoted the men as saying they were tortured into confessions. It said King Abdullah ratified their sentences in February.

"They have since said they were severely beaten, denied food and water, deprived of sleep, forced to remain standing for 24 hours and then forced to sign 'confessions'," said Amnesty.

A spokesman for the kingdom's Interior Ministry was not immediately able to comment on the report, but has repeatedly said in the past that Saudi Arabia does not practice torture.

The kingdom, which follows a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law, has been criticized in the West for its high number of executions, inconsistencies in the application of the law, and its use of public beheading to carry out death sentences.

The last time the kingdom executed so many people at once was in October 2011, when eight Bangladeshi men were put to death for an armed robbery in which a guard was killed.


The seven are from the southern province of Asir, one of the least developed in the kingdom, the world's top oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia has executed 17 people so far this year, said Amnesty, compared to 82 in 2011 and a similar number last year.

Capital crimes resulting in the death sentence last year included murder, armed robbery, drug smuggling, sorcery and witchcraft.

In January, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay at the beheading of a Sri Lankan maid convicted of murdering a baby.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a 2006 report that it was "deeply alarmed" at the imposition of capital punishment by Saudi judges for crimes committed before the age of 18.

In an interview carried by the Saudi Gazette last week, King Abdullah's son Prince Miteb said the monarch "does not like to see anybody in this situation (of being condemned to death)".

However, Miteb added that Abdullah views sharia as being "above everybody" and holds judges in high esteem.

In recent years the king, who turns 90 this year, has pushed for reform of Saudi Arabia's judiciary to make sentencing more standardized and improve training for judges, changes that have been fiercely contested by some conservative clerics.

He has also encouraged the families of murder victims to accept blood money instead of insisting on execution.

(Reporting By Angus McDowall, Editing by William Maclean and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (5)
westernshame wrote:
and this is the nation referred to as the “friends of Syria”. how can they seek democracy, human rights and freedom in Syria but not for their own citizens. if there were ever a nation in need of a regime change, this is it

Mar 06, 2013 10:48am EST  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“Capital crimes resulting in the death sentence last year included…. sorcery and witchcraft.”

Here we observe the “modern”, ever loyal “friend” and ally of America.

This is what happens/results, in a society and/or kingdom, which follows a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.

May the Gods take pity on the 99.99999 % of the people in Saudi Arabia who are not a part of the Ruling Dynasty/Family which controls 99.99999 $ of the nation’s immense oil wealth.

“…the kingdom’s Interior Ministry was not immediately able to comment on the report, but has repeatedly said in the past that Saudi Arabia does not practice torture.”

I imagine the Saudi government does not consider having one’s head chopped off, a form of “torture” because it is quicker than being made to endure repeated “water-boarding”.

What unspeakable evil has been unleashed upon this long suffering world since the discovery of oil and the gasoline engine.

Yes- by all means let us hasten the demise and fall of brutal dictators like Syria’s Assad so they can be replaced by the ever “Benevolent” belief systems inherent in strict sharia, or Islamic law.
Sharia Law- where crimes even committed as a child can result in a date with the Guillotine or the Sword, and where anyone who believes in “sorcery and witchcraft” can expect to be summarily executed for allegedly posing a danger to the State.

Even the best writers of fiction could not hope to conjure up such dark places on Earth as the societies that practice strict Sharia law. Something that is, and always will be, a belief system beyond the pale.

Mar 06, 2013 7:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
xyz2055 wrote:
Is this really the kind of government we want to be associated with? U.S. should immediately suspend accepting any Saudi Oil.

Mar 07, 2013 8:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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