Saudi Arabia [is] one of the last places on earth where capital punishment is a public spectacle. Decapitation awaits murderers, but the death penalty also applies to many other crimes, such as armed robbery, rape, adultery, drug use and trafficking, and renouncing Islam…..[The government] executed some 1,750 convicts between 1985 and 2008, yet reliable information about the practice is scarce. In Riyadh, beheadings happen at 9 a.m. any given day of the week, and there is no advance notice. There is also no written penal code, so questions of illegality depend on the on-the-spot interpretations of police and judges.
The Saudi interpretation of the Koran discourages all forms of evidence other than confessions and eyewitness accounts in capital trials, on the theory that doing otherwise would leave too much discretion to the judge. But at any time until the sword strikes, a victim’s family can pardon the condemned — usually for a cash settlement of at least two million riyals ($690,000 or so) from the convict or his family.
Decapitation for adultery??!! Only eye witness accounts and confessions allowed in capital trials? How many rapes and murders are witnessed by people? What if the accuser (male) is lying and there are no witnesses?
There’s a woman on death row now for witchcraft, and the charge is based partly on a man’s accusation that her spell made him impotent.
What if the man was angry at the woman for a biological problem with him? Is a person’s word enough to kill another human being? Oops! I forgot that under Sharia, a woman’s word in a court is worth half that of a man…In cases of he said/she said, in the absence of witnesses, the ‘he’ always wins…
One can’t help but admire the efficient way in which beheadings are conducted…
At 9 a.m., the executioner gently lowers the blade to jab at the condemned’s neck, which jerks the prisoner’s body to attention. Then the real blow: the blade is drawn high up, then swung back down. It cleaves skin, muscle, and bone with a hollow, echoing thud. A lurid crimson waterfall chases the head to the granite with the sound of a wet rag being wrung out over a stainless steel sink. The body sways forward, snaps up, and slumps off to the right.
The executioner wipes his blade with a white cloth that he then tosses away. It flutters in small arcs as two men in blue jumpsuits descend from the yellow van, hoist the body, and lay it on a stretcher. One grabs the head by the cloth tube that covers it. A loudspeaker lists the decapitated man’s crimes: rape, drug trafficking, and possession. The executioner sheathes his sword. A thickly bearded soldier claps his hands and wipes them against each other in the air — that’s it. By 9:05, the only other person in Chop Chop Square [the expatriate name for the public square in Riyadh in which beheading are done] is a janitor, hosing down the granite.
Saudi Arabia may soon have Pakistan as a bosom buddy if the latter doesn’t do anything about the Taliban…What is it with people wanting to maintain old and archaic traditions?