Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed three soldiers who were sentenced for “high treason” and “cooperating with the enemy”, a statement from the kingdom’s defence ministry said.
It said that the three had been sentenced to death by a specialist court after a fair trial.
The ministry did not name the alleged “enemy” but the executions were carried out in the southern province bordering Yemen where Saudi Arabia has been at war for more than six years against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.
Saudi Arabia has come under increasing global scrutiny over its human rights record since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate and the detention of women’s rights activists.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called on Riyadh to stop the use of the death penalty, citing allegations of torture and unfair trials.
Three soldiers who worked for #SaudiArabia’s Ministry of Defense were executed for committing a crime of high treason, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) cited the ministry as saying on Saturday.https://t.co/ObpTIwafEm
— Ismaeel Naar (@ismaeelrn) April 10, 2021
Saudi Arabia denies the accusations.
Saudi Arabia “drastically” reduced the number of people it put to death last year, according to a governmental body.
The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) documented 27 executions in 2020, which it said represented an 85% drop compared to 2019.
It attributed that in part to an unannounced moratorium on executions for drug-related offences, “giving more non-violent criminals a second chance”.
The campaign group Reprieve warned that the number might increase this year.
“The decline can partly be attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown from February to April, when the government carried out no executions due to restrictions to control the virus,” it said.
“The government recommenced executions at an increased rate in the final quarter of 2020: approximately one-third of all executions last year were carried out in December alone.”
According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia put to death a record 184 people in 2019. Half were foreign nationals and six were women.