By John Mc Hearly
January 30, 2015
Perhaps in an attempt to show his views towards sticking on to Islamic Sharia law the new king Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has gone ahead five executions in the forms of beheading since Friday, 23 January 2015. With this, the new king is establishing that his Islamic orthodox nation will not be ending the controversial tradition of beheading criminals. Since January 2014, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country’s antiquated legal system based primarily around Sharia law, to which four more beheadings have been added this year.
Prince Salman who was known to share the “progressive and practical” traits of his brother, the late King Abdullah seems to change his views in the current scenario. Latest reports from the internal ministry in the kingdom have sparked worldwide debate on the topic.
The first beheading was that of a school teacher, Mousa bin Saeed Ali al-Zahrani, who was accused of raping young girls. The interior ministry of Saudi Arabia had alleged that al-Zahrani “raped them (his victims), detained them, forced them to drink alcohol, and forced some to watch pornographic material”. Though his family came forward with strong defence arguing his innocence and the case was forged, the state went ahead with the execution on Monday. Saudi nationals Omar bin Yahya bin Ibrahim al-Barkati and Yassir bin Hussein al-Hamza and Pakistani national Latif Khan Nurzada were all executed on Tuesday, 27 January. The interior ministry clarified in a statement that Ibrahim al-Barkati was charged with incest, Hussein al-Hamza for smuggling amphetamine pills and Nurzada for heroin trafficking.
There is no written constitution in Saudi Arabia. The king acts as the highest court of appeal and has the power of pardon; access to the king and the right to petition him are well-established traditions. Shariah summary courts have jurisdiction over criminal cases and civil suits regarding marriage, into which the royal members could easily influence its decision.