Saudi executes 47 in one day, including Shiite cleric

According to reports, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on Saturday, including a prominent Shiite cleric behind anti-government protests and Sunnis convicted of involvement in deadly Al-Qaeda attacks.

 The 56-year-old cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, was a driving force of the protests that broke out in 2011 in the Sunni-ruled kingdom’s east, where the Shiite minority complains of marginalisation.

But the list does not include Nimr’s nephew, Ali al-Nimr, whose arrest at the age of 17 and alleged torture during detention sparked condemnation from human rights groups and the United States.

Announcing the executions, the Saudi interior ministry said the 47 had been convicted of adopting the radical “takfiri” ideology, joining “terrorist organisations” and implementing various “criminal plots”.

The list, published in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency, includes Sunnis convicted of involvement in Al-Qaeda attacks that killed Saudis and foreigners in the kingdom in 2003 and 2004.

All of the executed were Saudis, except for an Egyptian and citizen of Chad.

The list includes Fares al-Shuwail which Saudi media outlets have described as the top religious leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in August 2004.

They were executed Saturday in 12 Saudi cities, the ministry said, without elaborating.

Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword.

Executions have soared in the country since King Salman acceded the throne in January 2015, after the death of king Abdullah.

Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people convicted of various crimes, including drug-trafficking, after 87 were put to death in 2014.


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