Saudi Arabia reportedly executed four brothers from the same family on Monday for their attempts to smuggle hashish into the kingdom, bringing the number of beheadings in Saudi up to 17 in the last two weeks.
According to the Interior Ministry, the men were executed in the southern Najran province near Yemen after they were found guilty of handling the drugs by three courts, including an appeals court.
The AP tally for this year now stands at 32 for people killed by the Saudi authorities for misdemeanors and major crimes. Due to the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Sharia Islamic legal code is not codified, individual judges have extensive powers to base verdicts and sentences on their own interpretation of Islamic law.
This means that beheading four men for the relative minor crime of hashish smuggling is acceptable in the country, even though such an idea in the west would be preposterous.
Al Jazeera reported that the accused men who were executed on Monday, Hadi bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, Mufreh bin Jaber Zayed al-Yami, Ali bin Jaber Zayed al-Yami and Awadh bin Saleh Abdullah al-Mutlaq, were from Najran on the kingdom’s southern border with Yemen.
The sentences were carried out despite the numerous and loud calls from international human rights groups such as Amnesty International, which said that the admissions of guilt from the men were most likely obtained through torture.
Allegations of regular beatings and sleep deprivation were denied by the authorities which said they don’t torture prisoners before they chop their heads off.
The alleged offences took place back in 2007 at which time the kingdom allegedly told the families not to contact Amnesty international under fear of death.
Saudi Arabia is known to have detained thousands of its citizens, and sentenced hundreds of them, after a campaign of bombings and killings from 2003-06 by an al-Qaeda group which killed hundreds.
In the current climate in the region, the Saudis are as worried about the rise of groups like ISIS as anyone else and are treating the threat with a “zero tolerance” policy.
It seems petty that, compared to the potential threat faced in Saudi Arabia at the hands of ISIS, they would choose this time to execute four men in connection with hashish charges. Nevertheless, the regime deals with all criminals with an iron fist with little regard for human rights or world condemnation.