With the execution rate in Saudi Arabia soaring to record highs this year, the government has reportedly beheaded five foreigners convicted of murder and robbery, and then strung their bodies from a helicopter to deter would-be criminals.
The report comes from the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in the Arabian Peninsula. On Monday, the Saudi Interior Ministry announced it had beheaded five foreign nationals. Khaled Fetini and Ibrahim Nasser from Yemen, Hassan Omar from Chad, Salem Idriss from Eritrea, and Abdel Wahhab Abdel Maeen from Sudan, were all convicted of murdering an Indian guard and then stealing his money.
The executions occurred in the city of Jeddah along the Red Sea, and according to the report, after beheading by sword, officials then “dangle[d] their corpses from a helicopter for the public to see.”
Saudi authorities maintain that executions are necessary for “maintaining security and realizing justice,” and by law, rape, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, and apostasy, are all punishable by death.
In March, the Saudi criminal court wanted to re-try an atheist blogger who was sentenced to prison and 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam on the Liberal Saudi Network website. That retrial could result in the death penalty.
Earlier this month, the interior ministry announced the execution of three Saudi nationals, two for murder, and one for “smuggling a large amount of banned amphetamine pills.”
Filming of the beheadings is also forbidden by the Saudi government. An activist who released a video of a January execution was arrested and put on trial.
According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia ranks third worldwide in total number of executions performed. In 2014, the kingdom’s total trailed Iran’s 289 executions, while China ranks highest, with an unconfirmed estimate ranging in the thousands.
Iraq ranks fourth, with the United States coming in fifth place.