Saudi Arabia: execution of seven men today 'an act of sheer brutality'

Audio of telephone interview with two of the men hours before execution is available

The execution earlier today of seven men in Saudi Arabia after they were allegedly forced to “confess” to charges of armed robbery is an act of sheer brutality, Amnesty International said.

The men were shot by a firing squad this morning in the city of Abha, in the south of the country. All of them reported that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated while held in custody and that were forced to “confess” to the alleged crime. They also claimed their relatives were threatened with torture if they withdrew their “confessions”.

Two of the men repeated these claims in a telephone call to an Amnesty researcher just nine hours before their scheduled executions. One of them explains that the men only discovered they were about to be executed when friends and relatives told them that they’d seen the market square in Abha “being prepared” for their executions. “There are now seven spots in the square”, says one of the men in the interview, “for seven people to be shot”. “It’s going to be in public”, says the man.

The seven men were arrested in 2005 and 2006 on charges of armed robbery. In a trial only lasting a few hours all the men were denied legal representation and were refused the opportunity to appeal. 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.

The Saudi Arabian authorities had recently postponed the executions after an international outcry.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
 
“We are outraged by the execution of seven men in Saudi Arabia this morning.

“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.

“We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, but this case has been particularly shocking.

“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.”

Note to editors:
A downloadable phone interview conducted by Amnesty with two of the executed men is available at: https://adam.amnesty.org/asset-bank/action/viewAsset?id=171360
 

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