by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — On Tuesday, October 18th, Saudi Arabia executed a member of the royal family after he was convicted of shooting and killing another man during a brawl.
Saudi Prince Turki bin Saud bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer was executed in the capital, Riyadh, for killing a man during a group fight three years ago. Although details on the method of execution were not provided, most death penalties in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading in a public square.
The guilty verdict was supported by an appeals court, and later authorized by the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia. A royal order was then issued to carry out the Courts’ ruling. The Saudi Gazette reported that the prince’s family made several attempts to reach an agreement with the victim’s father prior to his execution. The victim’s family, however, refused offers of “blood money” and instead demanded justice.
This is the first execution carried out by Saudi Arabia in over four decades. The Interior Ministry stated that King Salman was keen on “enforcement of security, justice and God’s judgments.” The statement released by the Ministry further warned “that legitimate punishment would be the fate of whoever tries to assault innocent people and shed their blood.”
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies, in which the members of the royal family enjoy perks not available to rest of the country’s citizens. The royal execution has been widely interpreted as a message from the monarch that “no one in the kingdom is above the law.” A prominent Saudi lawyer, Mr. Abdul-Rahman al-Lahim, stated “the greatest thing is that the citizen sees the law applied to everyone, and that there are not big people and other small people.” Other Saudis praised the monarch, King Salman, under an Arabic hashtag which translated to “Decisive Salman orders retribution for the prince.”
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Shariah law and is often criticized by human rights groups and Western governments for what they consider to be harsh and arbitrary punishments. Human Rights Watch stated that the country has executed 134 people as of January 2016. Amnesty International reported that at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015.
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