Friday, February 23, 2007

Saudi Arabia hangs and then publicly crucifies four expats

Saudi Arabia hanged and then crucified four Sri Lankan expats convicted of robbery and put their mutilated bodies in public display, according to the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry.

Human Rights groups have condemned the action by Saudi Authorities for executing without prior notification the men who were originally only sentenced to imprisonment.

“The execution of these four migrants, who had been badly beaten and locked up for years without access to lawyers, is a travesty of justice,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “International law only allows states to use the death penalty for the most serious crimes and in the most stringent of circumstances – and neither condition was met in this case.”

The Sri Lankan embassy identified the men as Victor Corea, Ranjith Silva, Sanath Pushpakumara and Shamila Sangeeth Kumara.

The men were convicted for armed robbery by the General Court in Riyadh according to a judgment delivered in October 2004, but Amnesty International alleged that the trial did not meet minimum international standards of justice.

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Riyadh, responsible for around 350,000 Sri Lankan migrants are estimated to be working in Saudi Arabia, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo had been closely following up this case and the Government presented two appeals for clemency first by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and subsequently by President Mahinda Rajapakse to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

The latter appeal was delivered by hand by the President’s Special Envoy Minister Hon. A H M Fowzie, Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development to Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on 29th May 2006.

Amnesty International reported that Saudi Arabia has executed 17 persons already in 2007.

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