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NRI beheaded in Saudi Arabia for murder


Saudi Arabia, July 25 2005
NRI press

NRI (non-resident Indian) was executed (beheaded by the sword) in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Monday by Saudi Govt. Soper Amani Rafi was found guilty of "stabbing to death Mohammad bin Siddiq Ashfak Ashraf with a knife as he slept because of a dispute between them.

This year already at least 55 the number of people put to death in the kingdom this year, compared to 35 in 2004 and 53 in 2003.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of executions in the world in both absolute numbers and per capita. The death penalty applies to a wide range of non-violent activities such as apostasy and "witchcraft", "sexual offences", acts deemed to amount to "corruption on earth", and crimes such as drug dealing.

More than 1,100 people have been executed in the past 20 years, although the true total is probably far higher. It is almost certain that all were sentenced to death after secret and summary hearings and with no meaningful appeal.

Often, the first warning prisoners have of their imminent execution is when they are taken out of their cell in handcuffs on a Friday, the day executions are normally carried out. They are taken to a public square, blindfolded and forced to kneel. The executioner raises a sword, then brings the blade down across the prisoner's neck. Sometimes more than one stroke is needed to sever the head. A doctor certifies that the prisoner is dead, then the body and head are removed and buried.

It does not know whether they are allowed to see a representative of their religious faith, or whether an appropriate religious ceremony is conducted before, during or after death. What it does know is that foreign nationals are rarely if ever allowed to see their loved ones before they are executed and are never given advance warning of their execution.

Historical background.
Beheading with a sword or axe goes back a very long way in history, because like hanging, it was a cheap and practical method of execution in early times when a sword or an axe was always readily available.

The Greeks and the Romans considered beheading a less dishonourable (and less painful) form of execution than other methods in use at the time. The Roman Empire used beheading for its own citizens whilst crucifying others.
Beheading was widely used in Europe and Asia until the 20th century, but now is confined to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen and Iran

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A photographer records a public execution in Jeddah from behind the bars of a window © Rex Features