New record: Saudi Arabia executes 88th prisoner this year

Two Saudi nationals were executed after being convicted of drug smuggling.

Old rope with hangman’s noose (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Old rope with hangman’s noose (illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Saudi Arabia executed its 88th prisoner on Tuesday, outpacing the number of judicial killings enacted in all of last year by the Islamic Kingdom, according to AFP.
Saudis Awad al-Rowaili and Lafi al-Shamary were executed by hanging after they were both convicted of smuggling amphetamines, according to the interior ministry, despite concerns expressed by activist groups that capital-offense trials in Saudi Arabia are not conducted fairly.
In statements made by the ministry carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the two convicted drug offenders were executed in the northern region of Jawf, while another execution took place in the southwestern region of Asir in a separate murder case.
Among this year's dead are at least eight Yemenis, 10 Pakistanis, Syrians, Jordanians, and individuals from Myanmar, the Philippines, India, Chad, Eritrea and Sudan, AFP added.
Amnesty International claims that Saudi Arabia ranks in the world's top five in countries that commit summary executions, in which drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the auspices of sharia law, which the Saudi monarchy adopts.
After the death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in January, Amnesty has said that a "macabre spike" has been seen under new Saudi leadership, a phenomenon activist are unable to explain.
An execution can only take place with the King's final approval, "so if the king is strict he will sign this paper," AFP quoted an anonymous activist.
Expressing their concern for the unprecedented rise in executions occurring in Saudi Arabia, the London-based branch of Amnesty International has claimed that the Islamic Kingdom's court proceeding "falls far short" of standard global norms.
"Trials in death penalty cases are often held in secret. Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by lawyers" and may be convicted solely on the basis of "confessions", AFP reports.
Executions in Saudi Arabia are usually carried out in public, mostly by beheading with a sword, AFP adds.