Iran criticizes Saudi Arabia over execution of its citizens

DUBAI - Iran summoned the Saudi charge d'affaires in Tehran on Sunday to protest over the execution of three Iranians in Saudi Arabia for drug trafficking, according to the Fars news agency.

The regional adversaries are at loggerheads over crises in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as the disaster at the haj in September in which 465 Iranians died in a crush of pilgrims near Mecca.

According to Iranian state media, the death sentences of the three men, who had been convicted of smuggling large amounts of hashish to the kingdom, were carried out in the city of Dammam earlier in the day.

"Countries refrain from executing such sentences by respecting bilateral relations and keeping in mind that implementing such sentences will not bear a positive effect on ties," Iran's deputy foreign minister Hassan Qashqavi was quoted as saying by Press TV on Sunday.

Last year, Saudi Arabia executed more people than any country except China and Iran. Most executions in Saudi Arabia are by public beheading.

International monitoring groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say weaknesses in the Saudi justice system make convictions unsafe, and they have also criticized the frequent use of execution for non-violent offenses.

The conservative kingdom, which uses sharia law, or Islamic law, and whose judiciary is composed of clerics, denies that its trials are unfair.
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