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Amnesty International is alarmed at the sharp increase in the number of executions and amputations that have taken place in Saudi Arabia this year and fears that at least 30 others currently in detention under suspicion of ÏsorceryÓ and theft are at risk of amputation or execution after unfair trials

Since the beginning of this year there have been 11

executions - four for murder and six for rape as well as the execution of Hassan bin Awad al-Zubair, a Sudanese national, on 28 February in Riyadh after he was convicted on charges of ÏsorceryÓ. So far this year, six amputations have been carried out. Four of these were cross-amputations (right hand and left foot),

three of which were for assault and theft of taxi drivers in Riyadh. At this time last year, seven executions had been carried out, and Amnesty International recorded two amputations during the whole of 1999.

According to a report in the Okaz newspaper on 31

October 1999, 25 people were under arrest on suspicion of ÏsorceryÓ in the Asir region of the country. Some or all of these may be at risk of execution. In 1996 ÎAbd al-Karim MirÌi al-Nakshabandi, a Syrian national, was executed after being charged with Ïmagic and witchcraftÓ. It is believed that neither he nor his family was aware of the death sentence until the Ministry of the Interior announced his execution.

According to a report in Al-Jazeera newspaper on 26

February, at least five people have been arrested and reportedly confessed to 159 counts of theft said to have taken place in Riyadh over the past few years. The penalty for those found guilty of theft or highway robbery can be the amputation of the right hand or cross amputation. In cases of repeated theft, the offence may be considered by the courts to amount to Ïcorruption on earthÓ, for which the punishment is death. Some or all of the detainees may face amputation or death if convicted.

Background Saudi Arabia imposes the death penalty for crimes that include drug trafficking, murder, rape, armed robbery,

apostasy (turning away from Islam) and anything considered to amount to Ïcorruption on earthÓ.

Saudi ArabiaÃŒs continuing use of judicial amputation is a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, to which it became a state party in 1997.

Capital trials in Saudi Arabia often do not comply with internationally recognised standards for fair trial.

Confessions obtained under duress, torture or by deception are sometimes admitted in court and may be the sole evidence on which conviction is based.

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