Saudi Arabia carries out 64th execution of 2014

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, November 5, 2014

US-ally Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani on Wednesday for trafficking heroin hidden in his stomach into the kingdom, the interior ministry said, the latest in dozens of executions this year.

Mohammed Sadiq Hanif was arrested during his attempt to smuggle "a large amount" of heroin, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Last month, Saudi authorities beheaded four Pakistanis convicted of smuggling heroin into the kingdom.

The government "is keen on combating narcotics due to their great harm to individuals and the society," the interior ministry said.

The beheading Wednesday in the eastern town of Khubar raises to 64 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year, despite international concern.

A United Nations independent expert called in September for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said trials "are by all accounts grossly unfair" and defendants are often not allowed a lawyer.

He said confessions were obtained under torture.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Human Rights Watch expressed alarm in August at a surge in executions, which saw 19 people beheaded between in 16 days.

HRW said a number of those executed had been convicted of non-violent offenses such as drug trafficking and "sorcery," and described the use of the death penalty in their cases as "particularly egregious."

Moreover, Saudi judges have this year passed death sentences on five members of the country's Shia Muslim minority, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, for their part in pro-democracy protests.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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