Saudi Arabia: Seven men executed in act of sheer brutality

The execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia after allegedly being forced to “confess” to charges of armed robbery is nothing but an act of sheer brutality, Amnesty International said today.

The men were shot by a firing squad this morning in the city of Abha, in the south of the country.

“We are outraged by the execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia this morning. We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but this case has been particularly shocking,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery.

All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.

“It is a bloody day when a government executes seven people on the grounds of ‘confessions’ obtained under torture, submitted at a trial where they had no legal representation or recourse to appeal,” said Luther.

Two of the men are believed to have been juveniles at the time of the alleged crime: Ali bin Muhammad bin Hazam al-Shihri and Sa’id bin Nasser bin Muhammad al-Shahrani.

In a trial only lasting several hours, all men were denied legal representation and refused the opportunity to appeal. Saudi Arabian authorities postponed the executions after an international outcry.

“The death penalty is a violation of a fundamental human right – the right to life – and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, whatever form it takes.”