Saudi Arabia carries out 82nd execution of 2014

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Published Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two Saudis were beheaded on Tuesday for drug trafficking and murder, official media reported, bringing to 82 the number of executions this year.

The sentence against Abdulrahman bin Bakheit al-Lugmani was carried out in the western city of Mecca, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

He had been convicted of smuggling a large quantity of amphetamines, it said.

The second execution was in Eastern Province. Mehdi al-Mahmoud had been convicted of shooting dead another man following a dispute, the ministry said.

Other non-lethal crimes such as “adultery,” armed robbery, “apostasy,” drug-related offenses, rape, “witchcraft”, and “sorcery” are all punishable by death in the kingdom.

According to an AFP tally, 82 Saudis and foreigners have been beheaded in the oil-rich kingdom this year, with more than two thirds of the executions carried out over the past four months.

There were 78 executions last year.

The oil-rich Gulf state saw the third highest number of executions in the world last year, according to Amnesty International.

In September, two independent human rights experts working on behalf of the United Nations expressed concern about the judicial process in Saudi Arabia and called for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty.

“Despite several calls by human rights bodies, Saudi Arabia continues to execute individuals with appalling regularity and in flagrant disregard of international law standards,” said Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Political activism can also be penalized by death, as US-ally Saudi Arabia, like neighboring Bahrain, has taken a zero tolerance approach to all attempts at protest or dissent in the kingdom, including by liberal rights activists, Islamists, and members of the Shia minority.

Saudi judges have this year passed death sentences down to five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, for their part in protests.

The new Saudi Terrorism law issued early this year 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.”

”These broad provisions contain language that prosecutors and judges are already using to prosecute and convict independent activists and peaceful dissidents,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia implements a wide range of brutal punishments, including flogging, hefty fines and exaggerated prison sentences, for minor crimes.

Last week, Saudi authorities extended the detention of two women's rights activists by 25 days, one of whom tried to drive into the kingdom in defiance of a ban.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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