Saudi Arabia executes four more convicts
A statement released by Saudi Arabia's interior ministry on Wednesday said three Saudi citizens and one Syrian national had become the latest convicts to be executed in the kingdom, where crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking, armed robbery and apostasy are all punishable by death.
The statement named the three Saudis as Nawaf al-Otaibi, Bandar al-Ghathim and Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Zahrani - all of whom had been convicted of murder. Also executed was Syria's Ezzeddine al-Saleh, who had been found guilty of trafficking in amphetamines, it said.
Convicts sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia are usually beheaded, but firing squads are also used.
The announcement comes a day afterAmnesty International criticized Saudi Arabia for a sharp rise in the number of executions carried out in the kingdom.
According to a statement posted on AI's website, Saudi Arabia executed more people (102) between January and June of this year compared to 90 in all of 2014.
Apart from the four reported by the interior ministry on Wednesday, there have also been other executions since this June, however, it is not clear precisely how many. The AFP put the total figure for 2015 at 127, compared to just 113 counted by the Associated Press.
AI's report "Death and Executions in 2014" criticized not only Saudi Arabia's use of the death penalty but also the country's judicial system.
"Trials in death penalty cases are often held in secret. Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by lawyers, and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them," the report said.
It added that some have been convicted "solely on the basis of “confessions" obtained under duress or involving deception."
AI said Saudi Arabia executed more people than any other country except for China and Iran.
pfd/jil (AFP, dpa, AP)