Saudi carries out 86th execution of 2014 as Bahrain sentences two to death

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Published Monday, December 29, 2014

Saudi Arabia beheaded a man in the southern Najran region for stabbing a relative to death, the interior ministry said Monday, as neighboring Bahrain sentenced two men to death for killing policeman.

Misfir bin Nasser bin Misfir Lesloom al-Yami was found guilty of killing Hamad bin Ali bin Hamad Lesloom al-Yami following a fight, the ministry said in a statement made public by SPA state news agency.

His beheading in the southern Najran region brings to 86 the number of Saudis and foreigners in the oil-rich state that saw the third highest number of executions in the world last year holding 78 executions, Amnesty International said in a report released in March.

Rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are also punishable by death under the kingdom's medieval interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

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

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.

Saudi authorities issued a new “Terrorism” law earlier this year that 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.”

US-ally Saudi Arabia penalizes political activism by death as well, just like neighboring Bahrain, taking 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.

The oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, have long cracked down on dissent and calls for democratic reform, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

Bahrain sentences two men to death

On Monday, a court in Bahrain sentenced two Shia men to death and handed a third a life sentence on Monday after they were convicted of killing a policeman.

The ruling could further destabilize the Western-allied kingdom, where sporadic protests have erupted since the government quelled mass protests in 2011 led by Shia Muslims demanding reforms and greater social, political and economic equality

The verdict was announced by the chief prosecutor of terrorist crimes who said that the three were among 12 people charged with a bomb attack in February that killed the policeman Abdel-Wahed Sayed Mohammed Faqeer in the village of al-Dair, north of the capital Manama.

The court sentenced the remaining nine suspects to six years in jail and fined them 1,000 Bahraini Dinars ($2,652) each, according the official Twitter account of Bahrain's Public Prosecution.

The court ruling, which is subject to appeal, is only the fourth time in over 34 years that death sentences have been passed on Bahraini citizens.

It came a day after authorities detained Sheikh Ali Salman, head of the main opposition group al-Wefaq, who led a rally last week to denounce Bahrain's November elections which were boycotted by the opposition.

In apparent reference to Sheikh Salman's detention, Iran said on Monday that intensified security measures would further complicate matters in Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet.

"Instead of resorting to worn out tactics, the authorities in Bahrain should initiate trust and pave the way for serious dialogue between the people and the rulers," Iran's Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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