Saudi beheads man for drug trafficking, marking 68th execution of 2014

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Updated at 2:00 (GMT +2): Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded a Syrian convicted of drug trafficking, official media said, bringing to 68 the number of people executed this year despite international concern.

"Talal Ali Qassem was captured smuggling a large quantity of methamphetamine. Investigations led to his confession," the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the interior ministry.

Qassem was executed in the northern region of Jawf.

The interior ministry says the government is battling narcotics "because of their great harm to individuals and society."

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 and armed robbery are also punishable by death under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Death sentences

The man who gunned down an Irish cameraman working for the BBC in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago has been sentenced to death, a diplomatic source told AFP on Tuesday.

Simon Cumbers, 36, was filming near the home of a wanted militant in the Saudi capital when he was killed in the 2004 attack, in which the current BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was also left paralyzed.

The man, reportedly a Saudi, "was sentenced for the murder of Simon Cumbers," said the source, who was present at Monday's court hearing.

"As I understand it, there was a whole series of charges," which also related to the wounding of Gardner, said the source.

Cumber's killer was among three men the official Saudi Press Agency reported were sentenced to death on Monday for al-Qaeda linked crimes.

Five others were jailed for between 25 and 30 years for similar offenses.

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

Human rights organizations and activists have called on Saudi Arabia to overturn the death sentences handed down to pro-democracy activists, accusing the Saudi regime of curbing freedom of speech and opinion.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch urged the Saudi authorities to abolish The Specialized Criminal Court, the body that sentenced the five activists and many others to death, saying that analysis revealed “serious due process concerns” such as “broadly framed charges,” “denial of access to lawyers,” and “quick dismissal of allegations of torture without investigation.”

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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