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RIYADH, Nov 12, (AFP): Saudi Arabia on Thursday executed one of its citizens convicted of murder, adding to a toll which rights group Amnesty International says is the kingdom’s highest in two decades.
Nasser al-Qahtani was put to death in Eastern Province after being convicted of shooting dead another Saudi, the interior ministry said in a statement.
According to AFP tallies, he is the 147th local or foreigner put to death this year, against 87 for all of 2014.
Reasons for the surge are unclear, but it coincides with the accession to power in January of King Salman, his powerful son Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the veteran Interior Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. London-based Amnesty on Monday put the number of executions at 151 this year, the highest since 192 people were put to death in 1995.
The toll has rarely exceeded 90 annually in recent years, it said. “Death sentences in Saudi Arabia are frequently imposed for non-lethal offences, such as drug-related ones, and after unfair trials,” the watchdog said. Saudi executions are usually carried out by beheading with a sword, in what the interior ministry says is a deterrent.