Riyadh announces record number of single-day executions — Analysis

More than 80 people have been put to death for “heinous crimes,” including terrorism

More than 80 people convicted of various crimes, including terrorism, were executed on Saturday in Saudi Arabia – a record number of same-day executions in a country infamous for its high death penalty rates.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement that all the accused – 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis, and one Syrian national – had been tried in Sharia courts, with their trials being overseen by a total of 13 judges in three separate stages for each person. The ministry announced the decisions and stressed the full respect of the rights for all 81 defendants throughout the process.

According to the ministry, the courts had found the individuals guilty of a range of “Heinous Crimes,” which included “You pledge allegiance foreign terrorist organisations” such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda, and also the Shiite Houthis, which Sunni Saudi Arabia classifies as a terrorist movement.

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The long list of convictions includes “Travelling to regions of conflict to join terrorist organisations” “Government personnel and important economic locations should be targeted,” killing police officers and “Their bodies are maimed,” planting land mines to target police vehicles, kidnapping, torture, rape, and smuggling arms and bombs into the country.

The number of executions conducted on Saturday was larger than 2021’s total of 69 and even exceeded that of January 1980, when 63 militants were put to death for the 1979 attack on the Grand Mosque at Mecca.

Saudi Arabia remains a reliable partner for many Western countries, despite its high execution rate and numerous reports of human rights abuses. Next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reportedly visit Riyadh for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about cutting the UK’s dependence on Russian oil and replacing it with Saudi supplies amid Moscow’s ongoing offensive against Ukraine.

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