07/20/2016, 15.25
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With Ramadan over, Saudi executions pick up; so far almost 100 carried out this year

Two people, a Saudi convicted of murder and a Pakistani sentenced for drug trafficking, are executed, bringing to 98 the number of executions in 2016. Rights groups note that this year’s rate of executions is higher than last year’s at this point in time.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi authorities executed two men on Tuesday, bringing to 98 the number of executions carried out in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom so far this year.

Human rights group groups say that Saudi Arabia carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

The ranking excludes China because Beijing does not release data; however, the latter is believed to execute thousands of people each year.

Ali Assiri, a Saudi who was found guilty of stabbing a fellow tribesman to death, was executed in the southwestern region of Asir.

Mohammed Mokhtar, a Pakistani convicted of heroin trafficking, was executed in the eastern city of Dammam.

There were no beheadings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. However, executions resumed on Sunday when authorities put a Saudi murderer to death.

This year, the rate of executions in the Saudi kingdom is far higher than last year’s.

Murder and drug trafficking account for most Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offenses on a single day in January, including prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

This lead to a row between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia-ruled Iran, further inflaming an already troubled Middle East.

Beheading is the Saudi preferred method of execution. For years, human right groups and many Western governments have lobbied the Wahhabi-controlled kingdom to humanise their trials and executions.

Saudi Arabia strictly enforces Islamic law (Sharia). The death sentence, which entails beheading in public, is applied to offences like murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, witchcraft and sodomy.

No less cruel are the sentences for minor crimes such as theft and dissenting opinion, which, in addition to imprisonment, involve the amputation of a hand or foot and flogging.

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