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» 06/06/2013
SAUDI ARABIA
Not enough executioners for Saudi Arabia's death row inmates
Justice Ministers plans to add shooting to beheading as a method of execution; not out of compassion, but because the lack of executioners is causing a backlog. Since January 2013, at least 40 people have been executed, the last one on 14 May. Last year, 76 people were executed.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Saudi Arabia is governed by Sharia and people sentenced to death are executed with a sword in accordance with Islamic law. However, fewer people are interested in a "career" in executing others, a task that requires a lot of cold blood and a lot of training in how to swing properly the sword. In fact, a memo from the Saudi Justice Ministry is bemoaning a labour shortage in people trained to use the blade.

Within the kingdom, courts are forced to compete for executioners, who must travel around the country to carry out sentences. This is slowing down the justice system. To speed matters up, the Justice Ministry has issued an order allowing courts to shoot prisoners on the grounds that this method is not unIslamic.

In reality, the lack of trained executioners has not slowed down executions in Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning 2013, at least 40 people have been put to death. The last case occurred on 14 May in Najran, in the country's south-west. The executed felon, Maneh al-Daen, had been convicted of stabbing to death a fellow tribesman. Last year, the kingdom executed 76 people.

For years, the main human rights groups and many Western governments have tried to get the Saudi kingdom to implement fairer trials and less cruel executions. However, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where the death sentence by beheading can be carried out in a public place.

The death penalty is applied in cases of murder, armed robbery, rape and drug trafficking, as well as witchcraft and sodomy.

No less cruel are sentences for minor offences s such as theft and crimes of opinion, which in addition to jail time, may include public flogging or the chopping off of hands or feet.

Recently, a case involving two men, a Lebanese and a Saudi, sentenced to six years in prison and 300 lashes for pushing a young woman to convert to Christianity, generated a lot of discussion in the country. They were convicted despite the fact that the young woman, who is a refugee in Sweden, defended the two, saying in a video that she had converted without compulsion.


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See also
04/20/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
Sri Lanka woman accused of sorcery could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia
10/10/2011 BANGLADESH – SAUDI ARABIA
Eight Bangladeshis publicly beheaded in Riyadh, five more at risk
11/26/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
Riyadh: man to be decapitated for witchcraft
06/21/2011 INDONESIA – SAUDI ARABIA
Indonesian woman beheaded in Saudi Arabia, Jakarta threatens to stop flow of migrants
by Mathias Hariyadi
06/24/2011 INDONESIA – SAUDI ARABIA
After Ruyati’s beheading, Jakarta stops migrants from going to Saudi Arabia
by Mathias Hariyadi

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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