Riyadh prisoner accused of terrorism "executed and crucified"

He was part of a group of 37 people part of a "mass execution". One of the defendants was 16 at the time of detention. His charges included having an "extremist ideology" and "forming terrorist cells". The Ulema Council approves: "sharia-compliant" killings.


Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi authorities have "executed and crucified" a man accused of "terrorism", part of a group of 37 people put to death in a "mass execution". The last had occurred towards the end of 2015 and had involved defendants accused of belonging to extremist groups, including al Qaeda, and ties with enemy foreign powers (read Iran).

According to an official statement from the government, the man was sentenced to death for "having adopted an extremist and terrorist ideology" and "having formed terrorist cells" that threatened "the peace and security of society". Analysts and experts point out that these terms indicate that there are Sunni jihadist militants and Shiite activists among them.

Amnesty International adds that one of the 37 defendants was only 16 at the time of the arrest. The Ulema Committee, which brings together the country's Muslim scholars, justified the killings by pointing out that they are "sharia compliant" (Islamic law).

Those executed allegedly committed several crimes, including attacks on security headquarters, killing of several officials and policemen, and participating in anti-government demonstrations. The executions took place simultaneously in different parts of the country: in the capital Riyadh, in Medina and in Mecca, in the central region with a Sunni majority of al-Qassim, the southern province of Assir and in the eastern province where the Shiite minority is concentrated.

Usually in Saudi Arabia the defendants sentenced to death are executed by beheading. The authorities also impose crucifixion in the case of serious crimes. In 2018 a man was executed and crucified for stabbing a woman to death; he also reportedly tried to kill a man and rape another woman.

Riyadh, one of the nations in the world in which the executioner strikes most frequently, and does not release official statistics about executions. However, from the data collected by activists and international NGOs it emerges that under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs) the number has doubled.

The number of executions in June 2017 and March 2018 touched 133, almost twice as many as the 67 registered in the eight months prior to the rise to power of the crown prince. Furthermore, about half of the people who ended up in the executioner's hands were foreigners, especially poor migrants sentenced to death for drug trafficking. The death penalty, often by public beheading, is applied for crimes ranging from terrorism to rape, from armed robbery to drug trafficking.

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