More than three dozen inmates in Saudi Arabia were executed by beheading on Tuesday in one of the biggest mass executions in the kingdom’s history, officials say. The body of one of those executed was publicly pinned to a pole.
Thirty-seven men, most of them minority Shiites, were sentenced to death for terrorism-related offenses, but human rights groups said some of them participated in anti-government protests or were subject to unfair trials that relied on torture.
The executions by beheading were carried out on Tuesday in the regions of Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah, Eastern Province, Qasim, and Asir. One of the men, who was sentenced to be crucified, had his body and severed head publicly pinned to a pole as a warning to others, according to AP.
Amnesty International claimed that a majority of those executed were convicted after “sham trials” that relied on confessions extracted through torture. They include 11 men convicted of spying for Iran and 14 men who were convicted of violent offenses related to anti-government protests.
Among those executed was Abdulkareem al-Hawaj, who was just 16 years old when he was arrested, according to the human rights group. It said he was later convicted of offenses related to his involvement in anti-government protests.
“Today’s mass execution is a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities callous disregard for human life. It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shi’a minority,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.