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Saudi Arabia executes one of its own royals

Prince al-Kabir of the House of Saud has been executed after being found guilty of murdering a man in 2012. The punishment is an extremely rare case of a royal being sentenced to death.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed a member of its royal family for murder, an extremely rare case of a House of Saud member being sentenced to death.

Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was executed for murdering a man during a brawl in the Saudi capital Riyadh in 2012.

A statement released by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday said: "The Interior Ministry, in announcing this, affirms to all that the Kingdom's government is determined to establish  security, bring about justice and implement God's law against all those who attack the innocent."

Another Saudi prince welcomed the news, the first public reaction from a member of the royal family. Prince Khaled Al Saud is reported to have tweeted: "This is God's law, and the way of our blessed kingdom. May God have mercy on the killer and his victim."

The victim Adel al-Mahemid was shot dead in December 2012 by Prince al-Kabir during a brawl outside of a desert camp on the edge of Riyadh. Such camps are popular gathering places for Saudis. Another person was injured in the shooting.

Saudi Arabia's strict legal code

The Saudi Kingdom is known for its strict interpretation of Islamic law. Murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death. Most executions are carried out by beheading.

According to an AFP tally, Prince al-Kabir is the 134th local or foreigner to be put to death this year. Forty-seven of those were carried out on a single day in January, after a group of people, including a Shiite cleric, were found guilty of terrorism-related charges. The decision sparked furious protests from the kingdom's regional rival, Iran.

Last year, Saudi Arabia carried out at least 158 executions, according to Amnesty International, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan.

Rights groups have raised concerns over the fairness of trials in the kingdom, but the government and royal family maintain that the death penalty is an effective deterrent.

Watch video 01:48

Amnesty report: executions on the rise

dm/jr (AFP, dpa)

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