World

Saudi Arabia puts 81 to death in its largest ever mass execution 

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia conducted its largest mass execution known in its modern history, putting to death 81 people convicted of crimes varying from murders to belonging to militant groups.

The number of those executed surpassed the toll of a January 1980 mass killing for the 63 militants who were convicted of taking over the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, which was the worst-ever militant attack on the kingdom and Islam’s holiest site. 

While it has not yet been made clear why the country selected Saturday as the day for the executions, they came as much of the world’s focus is aimed on Russia’s war with Ukraine and as the United States looks to lower its record-high gas prices while energy prices around the globe are spiking.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is preparing a trip to Saudi Arabia in the upcoming week over oil prices. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, the overall number of death penalty cases that were being carried out in Saudi Arabia had decreased, but the kingdom continued to behead some convicts under King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saturday executions were announced by state-run Saudi Press Agency, which reported that they included those “convicted of various crimes, including the murdering of innocent men, women and children.” 

The kingdom added that some of the executions were of al-Qaida members, the Islamic State group and also supporters of Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Overall, those executed included 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis, and one Syrian.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead,” said the Saudi Press Agency.

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: POST-GAZETTE.COM

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