Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Saudi Arabia executes record 81 in one day for terrorism



Saudi Arabia executes record 81 in one day for terrorism

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia said it had executed a record 81 people in one day for terrorism-related offences. AFP

Saudi Arabia executes record 81 in one day for terrorism

Saudi Arabia said on March 12 it had executed a record 81 people in one day for terrorism-related offences, exceeding the total number killed last year and sparking criticism from rights activists.

All had been “found guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes”, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, saying they included convicts linked to the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda, Yemen’s Huthi rebel forces or “other terrorist organisations”.

The wealthy Gulf country has one of the world’s highest execution rates, and has often carried out previous death sentences by beheading.

Those executed had been sentenced over plotting attacks in the kingdom – including killing “a large number” of civilians and members of the security forces, the SPA statement read.

“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,” the SPA said.

“The convictions include crimes of kidnapping, torture, rape, smuggling arms and bombs into the kingdom,” it added.

Of the 81 people killed, 73 were Saudi citizens, seven were Yemeni and one was a Syrian national.

SPA said all those executed were tried in Saudi courts, with trials overseen by 13 judges, held over three separate stages for each individual.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten stability,” the news agency added.

Saudi Arabia has been the target of a series of deadly shootings and bombings since late 2014 carried out by IS group extremists.

The kingdom is also leading a military coalition that has been fighting in Yemen since 2015 against Iran-backed Huthi rebels, who have in turn launched strikes on Saudi Arabia.

But the executions sparked condemnation from Britain-based campaign group Reprieve.

“Just [the previous] week the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] told journalists he plans to modernise Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system, only to order the largest mass execution in the country’s history,” Reprieve said.

“There are prisoners of conscience on Saudi death row, and others arrested as children or charged with non-violent crimes. We fear for every one of them following this brutal display of impunity.”

The announcement on March 12 of 81 deaths marks more than the total of 69 executions in all of 2021.

Up until March 12, Saudi Arabia in 2022 had executed 11 people convicted of various crimes, according to an AFP tally based on official announcement. This brings the total executed so far this year to 92.

Around 50 countries worldwide continue to use the death penalty.

In 2020, 88 per cent of all 483 reported executions took place in just four countries: Iran, with 246, followed by Egypt with 107, Iraq with 45, and then Saudi Arabia, which carried out 27 that year, according to Amnesty International.

The executions on March 12 were announced a day after the release of Saudi blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi, who had been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years’ prison on charges of insulting Islam.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • Cambodia's poverty cut in half from 2009 to 2019: World Bank report

    A report published by the World Bank on November 28 states that Cambodia’s national poverty rate fell by almost half between 2009 and 2019, but the Covid-19 pandemic recently reversed some of the poverty reduction progress. Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 33.8 to 17.8 per cent over the 10