Saudi Arabia executes 81 people on terrorism offences

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs,” state news agency Saudi Press Agency has said.

In the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history, Saudi Arabia said the individuals had been convicted of terrorism and capital crimes including members of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The Interior Ministry said death sentences were handed down to several others who were convicted of crimes such as murder and rape.

“These individuals, totaling 81, were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children. Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Houthis, targeting residents in the Kingdom and traveling to regional conflict zones to join terrorist organisations,” the ministry said.

“They also include convictions for targeting government personnel and vital economic sites, the killing of law enforcement officers and maiming their bodies, and planting land mines to target police vehicles. Moreover, the convictions include crimes of kidnapping, torture, rape, smuggling arms and bombs into the Kingdom.”

The ministry said the individuals were arrested and tried in Saudi courts overseen by 13 judges over three separate stages of trial for each individual.

It added that the accused were “provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead.”

The ministry confirmed that the Kingdom will continue to take a “strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world.”

But Saudi human rights organisation Sanad, which operates in exile from London, said the accused were not given a fair trial.

It said: “While we are deeply shocked at the number of people put to death in one day, which comes in the context of terrorising people, we strongly believe that these executions were carried out without due process of law which entails procedural integrity and transparency.

“Sanad calls on the Saudi regime to practice clarity and transparency in penal procedures, starting with detention causes, integrity of investigation procedures, and granting the accused full rights of fair trial, legal representataion, clarity of charges, public trials and judicial independence.

“Sanad also expresses deep concerns about the possibility that the Saudi regime is also using such death penalties as intimidation means and political blackmailing tools to repress and silence its political dissidents and rights activists.

“Sanad categorically rejects all threats of capital punishment that the Saudi regime issues against many intellectuals, activists and prisoners of conscience who have not committed any crime, or done anything other than expressing their thoughts and voicing their opinions.

“Sanad also calls on the Saudi regime to allow independent international bodies to examine the quality and integrity of the practiced penal procedures and to investigate the legal violations committed by the Saudi regime in its penal system.”

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