Saudi Arabia has a long history of executing Saudi citizens as well as foreigners on terrorism-related acts. However, the recent mass execution has sparked international outrage with voices criticising the Saudi Kingdom and questioning the fairness of the trials.
“Some of whom [the 47 executed] were clearly sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials. Carrying out a death sentence when there are serious questions about the fairness of the trial is a monstrous and irreversible injustice,” Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Philip Luther said.
What follows is a brief account of the history of capital punishment in Saudi Arabia.
January 1980: 63 people were executed in the seizure of the Grand Mosque of Mecca case. The insurgents took over the mosque in November 1979 and declared that the Mahdi, redeemer of Islam, had arrived and called on Muslims to obey him. The seizure left 153 persons dead and over 500 injured.
September 1988: Four Shi’as who belong to “Hezbollah of Hijaz” group were beheaded for blowing up fuel storage tanks at the Saudi Petrochemical Company (SADAF) in Jubail city in eastern province. They were charged with terrorism, sabotage, conspiring with Iran, and murder.
November 1995: Four Saudi Arabians were beheaded after they were convicted of detonating a car bomb near the offices of the Saudi National Guard in Riyadh in 1995. The explosion left seven people dead, including five US citizens.
August 2015: Saudi Arabia executed two Chadians for their participation in a militant attack. They were convicted of killing French national Laurent Barbot, in 2004, and for attempted of foreign officials. They were also convicted of joining a terrorist cell inside the kingdom belonging to Al-Qaeda, embracing takfiri ideology and proclaiming others to be infidels.