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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Prince saves defendant on death row from execution

The Governor of Asir, Prince Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has intervened to save the life of a man sentenced to death for murder.

Prince Turki bin Tallal was able to mediate between the convicted man and the victim’s family. In doing so, he convinced the victim’s family to forgive the man who killed their son. In turn, he was relieved of the death penalty.

Prince Bin Talal spoke of the importance of both justice and forgiveness.

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Saudi Arabia, with the country performing at least 107 executions in 2019. Human rights groups have said that Saudi Arabia is on course to execute more people in 2019 than in any other year this decade. Those condemned to death are often executed via public beheading, and in some cases, they are then crucified.

Murder is punishable by death, as well as other crimes such as drug trafficking and armed robbery. However, if the murderer pays the family, and the family approves, they can then be reprieved of the death penalty. The justice system typically waits for the family to decide whether or not they accept the blood money before deciding whether someone is to be executed or forgiven.

This year, 37 people were executed in one go, including a person who was aged just 16. The execution of anyone under the age of 18 is illegal in international law. In 2011, they executed a Sudanese migrant for “sorcery”.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia executed one of their princes, a distant relative of King Salman, for murder. Criminal acts committed by members of the massive Saudi Royal Family are often censored; however, the execution of Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was widely reported. He was the first Saudi royal to be executed since 1977.

At the time, it was described by analysts as sending a “strong message” to younger royals that they are equal in the eyes of the law.