Saudi Arabia executes citizen for killing policeman

Saudi authorities executed a citizen convicted of killing a policeman trying to arrest him for drug trafficking, the interior ministry has said.

Ayed al-Jahdali was executed in the Makkah region, the interior ministry said.

Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword although sometimes a firing-squad is deployed.

A total of 151 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia this year — the highest recorded figure since 1995 — campaign group Amnesty International said in a statement, condemning the “bloody execution spree”.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree which has seen at least 151 people put to death so far this year — an average of one person every two days,” said James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Almost half of the 151 executions were for offences that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” which involve intentional killing and for which the death penalty can be imposed under international human rights law, Amnesty said.

The death penalty is disproportionately used against foreigners in Saudi Arabia and of the 63 people executed this year for drug-related charges, 45 were foreign nationals, the group said.

So far 71 foreign nationals have been put to death in the conservative kingdom in 2015, mostly migrant workers from developing countries, Amnesty said.

Rights experts have raised concerns about the fairness of trials in the kingdom and migrants are especially vulnerable as they typically lack knowledge of Arabic and are denied adequate translation during their trials, Amnesty noted.

“The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance but it is especially alarming that the Saudi Arabian authorities continue to use it in violation of international human rights law and standards, on such a wide scale, and after trials which are grossly unfair and sometimes politically motivated,” said James Lynch.

The country’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent Shia Muslim cleric after a politicised and grossly unfair trial at Saudi Arabia’s notorious counter-terror court.

Nimr’s nephew Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, and two other young Shia activists who were arrested as juveniles after taking part in anti-government rallies, also had their death sentences upheld, Amnesty said.

All three claim they were tortured and denied access to a lawyer during their trials.