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Seven Saudi men executed for crimes they committed as juveniles

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 13th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

After trials that dragged on for several years, seven men in Saudi Arabian men have been executed for crimes they committed as juveniles. The seven men were arrested in 2006 and received death sentences in 2009, according to a Saudi newspaper. Their families and human rights groups had asked for clemency the week previously - but were denied.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The executions for theft were carried out in Abha, a city in the southern region of Asir. The southern part of the country has been marginalized and has suffered discrimination by the powerful central region where the capital, Riyadh, and the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina are located.

Human Rights Watch called for the sentences to be cancelled because the men were juveniles at the time of their arrest. One of the men told reporters that he was only 15 when he was arrested as part of a ring that stole jewelry in 2004 and 2005. Nasser al-Qahtani said he was tortured to confess and had no access to lawyers.

Al-Qahtani also said that during the years-long trial, he only faced the judge three times. He also said that the complaints about the torture they suffered in custody were ignored. The judge also never assigned him a lawyer.

Human Rights Watch appealed to King Abdullah not to execute the seven men and said there was "strong evidence" that they did not get a fair trial.

"It is high time for the Saudis to stop executing child offenders and start observing their obligations under international human rights law," Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.

The original sentences called for death by firing squad and crucifixion. Three men with swords carried out the executions this week.

The oil-rich kingdom follows a strict implementation of Islamic law under which people convicted of murder, rape or armed robbery can be executed, usually by sword.

Saudi Arabia has executed 23 people so far this year, including the seven men this week. Last year it executed 76 people and in 2011, 79.

More horrifically, several people were reported crucified in Saudi Arabia last year. Human rights groups have condemned crucifixions, including cases in which people were beheaded and then crucified. Amnesty International in 2009 condemned such executions as "the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment."

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