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Saudi Arabia executes 7 on ‘terror’ charges

February 28, 2024 at 9:59 am

The Saudi Arabia national flag [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia executed seven people on Tuesday on charges of “creating and financing terrorist organisations.” It was the highest number of executions in a single day since March 2022, when the kingdom’s authorities executed 81 people in one day.

The latest executions bring the total number of people put to death on terror charges to 11 out of 29 death sentences carried out by the kingdom since the beginning of this year, according to an AFP tally based on official data. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 170 people, including 33 for terror-related offences.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted the Interior Ministry as saying that the defendants, whose nationality was not specified but whose names and titles indicate that they were Saudi nationals, had been charged with “adopting a terrorist approach that calls for bloodshed, establishing and financing terrorist organisations and entities, and communicating and dealing with them with the aim of disrupting the security and stability of society and endangering national security.”

The defendants were arrested between December 2019 and January 2022, and were executed in the capital, Riyadh, after the death sentence was upheld by the Specialised Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, said the ministry.

Vice President of the Berlin-based European-Saudi Organisation for human rights, Adel Al-Saeed, said that the ministry’s statement had been drafted “very loosely”. He explained that it did not mention the name of the “terrorist” organisation to which the victims had allegedly belonged, the exact crimes it committed, and what the victims’ roles in these crimes were.

Saudi Arabia is repeatedly criticised for its excessive use of the death penalty. In 2022, it ranked third on the list of countries that carry out the most death sentences globally, according to Amnesty International. In that year, the kingdom executed 147 people, including 81 in a single day, while the largest number of executions was recorded in 2019 when it executed 187 people.

Human rights organisations say the executions undermine the kingdom’s efforts to polish its image by approving social and economic amendments within the reforming Vision 2030. However, the Saudi authorities stress that “the kingdom’s government is keen to establish security, achieve justice, and implement God’s decrees against everyone who assaults innocent people or sheds their blood.”

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