Saudi Arabia carries out 85th execution of 2014

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, December 26, 2014

Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a Pakistani man for heroin smuggling, the twelfth person from Pakistan to be executed in the kingdom for drug trafficking since mid-October.

They are among 85 foreigners and Saudis put to death this year in the oil-rich kingdom, according to an AFP tally.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world's highest execution tolls.

The sentence against Ismail Khan Sayed was carried out in Eastern Province after his conviction for smuggling "a large amount" of heroin, the Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

In addition to amphetamines and other drugs, Saudi authorities seized almost 18 kg(40 pounds) of raw heroin during the Islamic calendar year that ended in October, according to the Interior Ministry.

Rape, murder, drug trafficking, apostasy and armed robbery are punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's medieval interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

The oil-rich Gulf state saw the third highest number of executions in the world last year holding 78 executions, Amnesty International said in a report released in March.

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.”

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.

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

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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