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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
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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