23 April, 2024
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Saudi Arabia puts seven men to death in largest execution in years


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Saudi Arabia puts seven men to death in largest execution in years

State media says men were convicted by court which has been criticised for punishing activists and protesters under guise of terrorism

Dania Akkad

Saudi Arabia has executed 31 people so far in 2024 (AFP/Ozen Kose)

Seven Saudi men were executed on Tuesday, the highest number put to death in one day since 81 were killed in March 2022.

The Specialised Criminal Court (SCC) convicted the men on terrorism charges, accusing them of betraying “their homeland, threatening its stability and endangering its security”, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

The men’s names were listed in the SPA announcement, which is often the only information released about executions in the kingdom, but with little further detail.

Riyadh has now executed 31 people this year, after putting at least 172 people to death in 2023, rights groups monitoring executions in Saudi Arabia have said.

None of the men executed on Tuesday were known to be on death row, Duaa Dhainy, a researcher with the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR), told Middle East Eye.

In the past eight years, she said, ESOHR only had knowledge about three percent of death penalty cases before executions were carried out.

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“NGO and public information about people on death row is very limited,” Dhainy said.

Those executed in 2024 include 10 men convicted of terrorism charges by the SCC, which has been criticised for punishing activists and protesters.

Among those was Awn Hassan Abu Abdullah, who was executed on 30 January.

While Abdullah was accused of joining a terrorist cell and financing terrorism, ESOHR has reported that it believes he was arrested, tried and executed for “legitimate activies”, including expressing his opinions and participating in gatherings.

Tuesday’s execution of seven people is the highest number put to death since March 2022, a year in which the kingdom carried out more executions than any other country besides China and Iran, according to Amnesty International.

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