06/08/2018, 10.02
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Saudi court sentences four to death for conspiring with Iran

According to the indictment, the group had ties with Tehran and received training in Iranian territory from the Pasdaran. The goal: to assassinate "prominent kingdom personalities". Riyadh among nation’s with highest rate of executions. International activists and NGOs criticize the lack of transparency in trial.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Saudi court has sentenced four people to death, for (allegedly) having ties with Iran, the Shiite power and Riyadh’s historical regional rival. According to state media reports, the group was preparing the assassination of "prominent personalities" of the Arab country.

"The criminal court - the TV channel Al-Ekhbariya explains in a report - condemned the four terrorists to death for having planned the murder of high-ranking personalities". The four reportedly were "trained" in "different centres" scattered around Iran.

At the moment there is no information about the identity of the convicted persons. The official state media add that the (alleged) conspirators travelled to Iran on a tourist visa and were trained by the Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran, the loyal elite corps of the Iranian supreme leader.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran have a long history of rivalries and tensions behind them. Today they are on opposite sides in the various conflicts that bloody the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen. In December 2016, a Saudi court sentenced 15 people to death for spying in favor of Tehran. According to an internal source, most of these were members of the Shia minority living in the ultraconservative wahhabite kingdom. A few months earlier, tensions between Teheran and Riyadh had reached their peak following the execution of the Saudi Shiite leader Nimr al-Nimr, with the assault on Saudi diplomatic representations in the Iranian capital and the consequent breaking of diplomatic relations.  

The Saudi kingdom is among the nations in the world with the highest rate of executions. In 2014, the executioner struck 600 times, executing citizens and foreigners - often by beheading in a public square - for crimes ranging from terrorism to rape, from armed robbery to drug trafficking.

Activists and international human rights associations have repeatedly expressed doubts and concerns about the fairness and correctness of the trails that are being carried out in the country, where there is a strict application of Sharia, the Islamic law. However, Riyadh strongly rejects the criticism and states that capital punishment acts as a "deterrent" against crimes.

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