Saudi Arabia has executed 47 “terrorists”, according to the interior ministry, including Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr and al-Qaeda-affiliated Faris al-Zahrani. In a press release read on state TV on Saturday, the ministry listed the names of all those it said were already convicted on charges of terrorism.
The death sentence of Nimr al-Nimr, who led the anti-government protests in the country’s east, was confirmed by the Supreme Court in October. Al-Zahani, once considered one of Saudi Arabia’s “most wanted terrorists”, was detained in 2004while allegedly in possession of weapons.
Among those executed were one Egyptian and one Chadian, the ministry said. It added that the convicted had participated in attacks against residential compounds and government buildings. The announcement comes just a day after Amnesty international said that Saudi Arabia executed at least 151 people in 2015, the most beheadings in 20 years.
“The Saudi Arabian authorities appear intent on continuing a bloody execution spree,” Amnesty’s report released on Monday said, quoting James Lynch, deputy director at the Middle East and North Africa programme. It is the most people put to death in the kingdom in one year since 1995, when 192 executions were reportedly carried out.
Amnesty said the large number of executions shed further light on what the London-based human rights group referred to as unfair judicial proceedings, with a disproportionate imposition of capital punishment on foreign nationals. “Of the 63 people executed this year for drug-related charges, the vast majority, 45 people, were foreign nationals,” the report said.