Saudi Arabia executed three soldiers on Saturday for treachery and threatening the kingdom’s military interests, officials said.
The trio had been found guilty of “the crime of high treason in cooperation with the enemy,” according to an official statement carried by Saudi Press Agency, but the statement did not provide details on who the enemy was.
The statement also said the men were convicted in a fair trial by a specialist court, before being sentenced to death by royal order. The Saudi Press Agency reported that the men were soldiers working for the Defense Ministry.
Saudi Arabia’s clampdown
The news of the executions comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 35-year-old heir to the throne, tightens his hold on power.
Over the past three years, the crown prince has increasingly clamped down on opponents, with the imprisonment of royal family members, business tycoons, clerics and activists. His actions come as Saudi Arabia leads a military campaign in the neighboring Yemen against Iran-backed Huthi rebels. Riyadh and Tehran have also clashed on a range of other issues.
Under the microscope over human rights
Saudi Arabia has frequently been crticized for its human rights record, with international scrutiny intensifying after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate. The detention of women’s rights activists has also placed the Saudi regime under the microscope.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called on Saudi Arabia to prohibit the death penalty, citing reports of torture and unfair trials. The kingdom has constantly rebutted such accusations.
Saudi Arabia carried out the third most executions in the world in 2019, after China and Iran, according to Amnesty’s data.
By DW News
FILE PHOTO: A Saudi flag flutters atop Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 20, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir