Saudi execution streak continues as fears grow for Jordanian on death row | Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed two more Saudi citizens for drug-related offences, bringing the total number of executions in the past fortnight to 17.

The kingdom previously pledged not to impose the death penalty for drug offenses but suddenly backed down on its word, executing seven Saudi nationals and 10 foreigners. Saudi Arabia has already executed 130 people this year.

The spate of executions, as the kingdom celebrates its victory over Argentina at the World Cup, prompted former Conservative minister David Davis to write to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and the Saudi ambassador to the UK asking them to intervene. to pardon Hussein Abo al-Kheir, a Jordanian.

In his letter to Cleverly, Davis said: “Hussein was born into a poor family and, before his arrest, worked in low-paying jobs to support his eight children: taxi driver, bus attendant and fruit and vegetable seller. . It remains absurd that this impoverished father of eight could ever be a drug kingpin; he had neither the money nor the connections to buy large quantities of drugs in Jordan to resell them in Saudi Arabia.

Kheir, who is represented by campaign group Reprieve, was moved to a death row cell on Friday.

He was arrested in 2014 for smuggling drugs while crossing the Jordanian border into Saudi Arabia, and says he only confessed when he was tortured, including being hung up by the feet and beaten in the stomach and legs. An appeals court overturned a guilty verdict in March 2017, but the government ordered a retrial six months later, leading to him being sentenced to death again in November 2017.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said in October that his arrest was arbitrary and that he should be released immediately.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has told media in previous interviews: “As far as the death penalty is concerned, we are getting rid of it entirely,” adding that it would be except in cases where “someone one has killed another person or is threatening the lives of Many people”.

Taha al-Hajji, a former defense lawyer from the capital who now works at the Saudi European Human Rights Organisation, said: “There is no logical explanation for his return to executions.

“But I think the break coincided with the worldwide criticism of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Executions resumed after media and human rights campaigns slowed.

Kheir actually phoned his sister in Canada on Monday night to say goodbye. His sister quoted him as desperate saying, “Sister, it’s been nine years, they didn’t release me or kill me, they can do whatever they want with me now. They just do what they want now.

Leave a Comment