Saudi Beheads Child Rapist, Marking 13th Execution of 2015

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, January 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia on Monday beheaded a serial child rapist, in the first execution since King Salman's rise to the throne in the oil-rich kingdom, official media said.

"Moussa bin Saeed Ali al-Zahrani lured several underage girls and kidnapped them. He also threatened them and their relatives and physically assaulted them in his home," the Saudi Press Agency said, citing the interior ministry.

"He raped them, detained them, forced them to drink alcohol, and forced some to watch pornographic material."

The report did not disclose his nationality.

Zahrani was beheaded in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, bringing to 13 the number of Saudis and foreigners executed this year, according to an AFP tally.

Salman acceded to the throne last Friday after his half-brother King Abdullah died following a reign of almost 10 years.

Under Abdullah, the number of executions jumped from 27 in 2010 to around 80 annually.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, which executed 87 people last year compared to 78 in 2013, according to an AFP tally.

Saudi Arabia's legal code follows its strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sharia. Judges are trained as religious scholars and have a broad scope to base verdicts and sentences on their own interpretation of religious texts.

The Western-backed kingdom has faced international criticism for its frequent use of the death penalty.

An independent expert working on behalf of the United Nations called in September for an immediate moratorium on executions in Saudi Arabia.

But the interior ministry insists that the execution of convicts such as Zahrani aims "to maintain security and realize justice.”

In 2014, Saudi judges have passed death sentences down to five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, for their part in protests.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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