RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (BNO NEWS) -- Four drug traffickers from Syria and Iran were decapitated by sword in northern and eastern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the government said, disregarding concerns raised by human rights organizations and raising the number of people executed over the last month to 30.
Three of the latest executions took place in the northern Al Jawf Region, while the fourth took place at an unspecified location in the kingdom's eastern region, according to four separate statements issued by the Saudi Interior Ministry. It warned that the government will continue to carry out harsh punishments against those who traffic drugs.
The men executed in the Al Jawf Region were all Syrian nationals, identified as Hamoud Fayez Hassoun, Hassan Taha Musalamani, and Youssef Abdullah al-Halqi. They were convicted of smuggling "a large quantity of banned amphetamine pills" and had confessed to their crimes before the courts sentenced them to death, the interior ministry said. It did not say whether the men were part of the same drug-trafficking ring.
The fourth execution took place in Saudi Arabia's eastern region, where Iranian national Raza Abbas Fadhil Aderisawi was beheaded by sword after the courts upheld his death sentence. The interior ministry said Aderisawi was convicted of smuggling "a large quantity of hashish" into the kingdom by sea, but provided no further details about his case.
"The Interior Ministry reminds the public that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) - may Allah protect him - continues the fight against drugs of all kinds as it inflicts serious harm on the individual and society," the ministry said in its statement. "The most severe penalties on the perpetrators are derived from the righteous approach of Sharia law."
Tuesday's beheadings raise the number of people executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of August to 30, leading to condemnation from human rights organizations as many have been killed for non-lethal crimes. "Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.
Amnesty International also expressed its concern last month after four family members were executed on the same day for merely possessing hashish. "The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice," said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International.
At least 45 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia so far this year, following 79 executions last year. The kingdom applies the death penalty for a large number of crimes, including drug offenses, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft. Both witchcraft and sorcery are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia, but human rights organizations say such charges have been used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion.
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