Saudi Arabia executes 81 people – On Saturday (local time), Saudi Arabia executed 81 people convicted of offenses ranging from murder to membership in militant groups, the kingdom’s greatest known mass execution in modern history.
The number of people hanged topped the 63 militants accused of seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, the worst-ever militant attack on the kingdom and Islam’s holiest site, who was executed in January 1980.
In a statement released by Saudi state television, those who were executed were said to have “walked in the footsteps of Satan” in carrying out their crimes.
It’s unclear why the monarchy selected Saturday for the executions, given that much of the world’s attention is still focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine – and the US aims to drop record-high gasoline costs as global energy prices rise. Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, is allegedly planning a trip to Saudi Arabia next week to discuss oil pricing.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of death penalty cases in Saudi Arabia decreased, but the kingdom continued to behead criminals under King Salman and his aggressive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The executions were announced on Saturday by the Saudi Press Agency, which said those executed were “convicted of numerous crimes, including the murders of innocent men, women, and children.”
Some of them executed, according to the monarchy, were members of al-Qaida, the Islamic State, and supporters of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis, and one Syrian were among those killed.
The location of the executions was not mentioned in the report. “The accused were given the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of multiple heinous crimes that resulted in the deaths of a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers,” the Saudi Press Agency said.
It did not specify how the criminals were executed, as Saudi Arabian death row inmates are commonly beheaded.
The executions received immediate international criticism.
“By now, the world should know that when Mohammed bin Salman pledges to reform, murder is unavoidable,” said Soraya Bauwens, deputy director of the London-based advocacy group Reprieve. According to Ali Adubusi, director of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, several of those murdered were tortured and faced “secret” tribunals.
He stated, “These executions are the opposite of justice.” The country’s most recent mass execution occurred in January 2016, when 47 people were murdered, including a prominent opposition Shiite imam who had rallied protests in the kingdom. Crown Prince Mohammed’s father has gradually liberalized life in the kingdom since seizing power, establishing movie theaters, letting women drive, and defanging the country’s once-feared religious police.
However, US intelligence agencies believe the crown prince was also responsible for the assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as bombings in Yemen that killed hundreds of civilians.
“If someone kills another person, the family of that person has the right to seek capital punishment after going to court, unless they forgive him.”
The crown prince mentioned the death penalty in excerpts from an interview with The Atlantic magazine, saying that a “large percentage” of executions had been postponed due to the payment of so-called “blood money” settlements to mourning families. According to a transcript later published by the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya, the prince said, “Well, we got rid of all of it, except for one category, and this one is written in the Quran, and we cannot do anything about it, even if we wished to do something, because it is clear teaching in the Quran.” “If someone kills another person, the victim’s family has the right to seek capital punishment after going to court, unless they forgive him.” “Or if someone threatens the lives of a large number of people, he must face the death penalty.” “Regardless of whether I like it or not, I don’t have the power to change it,” he added.