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RIYADH: A Saudi firing squad yesterday executed in public seven men convicted of armed robbery despite last-minute appeals by rights groups that their lives be spared, the interior ministry and a witness said.
The condemned men were convicted of “forming a gang that carried out several armed robberies and thefts with the help of other people,” the ministry said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency.
They were executed “as a punishment to them and to deter others” from carrying out similar crimes, said SPA, adding that their fellow-robbers had been sentenced to various jail terms and lashes.
A witness said by telephone that “the execution was “implemented a while ago at a public square in Abha,” adding that the defendants were “shot dead” and not beheaded as is customary in the kingdom. The announcement came soon after Amnesty International released a statement renewing calls on the Saudi authorities to halt the executions. They “look set to be shot on Wednesday morning,” said Amnesty, which described the executions as “sheer brutality.”
The seven men — Sarhan Al Mashaikh, Saeed Al Zahrani, Ali Al Shahri, Nasser Al Qahtani, Saeed Al Shahrani, Abdulaziz Al Amri and Ali Al Qahtani — were charged with organising a criminal group, armed robbery and raiding and breaking into jewellery stores in 2005, and sentenced to death in 2009.AFP