Saudi Arabia executes national for murder

Riyadh, Feb 1 (IANS/AKI) Saudi Arabia on Monday put a man to death in the northern city of Tabuk for murdering another Saudi citizen, bringing to 56 the number of people executed this year.

Ahmed al-Harbi was executed after he was convicted of stabbing and shooting Fahed al-Balawi during a dispute, the interior ministry said in a statement quoted by the state-run SPA news agency.

Amid an ongoing spike in executions in the kingdom, Saudi authorities put 47 people to death for “terrorism” on a single day last month, including influential Shia cleric and political dissident Nimr al-Nimr.

A vocal critic of the Saudi government, Nimr was among seven activists whose death sentences were upheld this year after they were arrested for taking part in protests in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province in 2011 and for urging political reform.

Saudi Arabia executed at least 151 people between January and November last year, its highest recorded number of executions in two decades, according to Amnesty International.

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are done by beheading with a sword and some by firing-squad.

Murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death under the kingdom’s strict Islamic legal code.

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