Saudis Said to Abuse Foreigners
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Saudi Arabia executed a Syrian
man on false charges of witchcraft only to meet the demands of his employer,
a nephew of the king, according to a human rights report released Tuesday.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch-Middle East cited the execution
of Abdul-Karim al-Naqshabandi as one of numerous cases of foreign workers
in Saudi Arabia who are arrested, tortured and punished based on false
There was no immediate reaction from Saudi authorities, who seldom respond
to reporters' queries. Human Rights Watch said it wrote several letters
to Saudi Arabia's foreign, interior and justice ministers to seek a response,
but all went unanswered.
The report also criticized the kingdom's lack of a written or published
penal code, which it said permits authorities ``excessively wide discretion.''
Al-Naqshabandi, 40, was executed in December for allegedly practicing
witchcraft. He had worked for more than 14 years for Saudi Prince Salman
bin Saud bin Abdul Aziz, a nephew of King Fahd.
The 29-page report, devoted entirely to al-Naqshabandi's case, said
he was detained for more than three years before he was beheaded in the
Saudi capital, Riyadh.
It said al-Naqshabandi, an administrative director at Prince Salman's
storage company, wrote letters to the trial judge alleging the prince brought
false charges against him when he refused to falsely testify against another
employer. But his letters were ignored, the report said.
He also described physical abuse by the prince and police officers while
he was detained to extract a false confession, said the report
He said he was ``tied like an animal ... on the edge of a swimming pool
and so what could I do but give in and sign the confession in order to
Al-Naqshabandi said he was taken to a police station, where an officer
put a shoe in his mouth and held him in solitary confinement.
The report said al-Naqshabandi was ``prosecuted and then executed to
satisfy the wishes of his wealthy, well-connected employer.'' Until three
days before his execution, al-Naqshabandi did not even know he had been
convicted let alone sentenced to death.
Saudi Arabia's Islamic courts impose the death penalty on murderers,
rapists and drug traffickers. Beheadings are carried out in public with
a razor-sharp sword. At least 100 people have been executed in the first
nine months of 1997 alone and more than 540 since 1990.
It is not known how many of them were executed for practicing witchcraft.
Human rights groups have in the past criticized the executions on grounds
that the accused often are not represented by lawyers during their trials
and have difficulty appealing verdicts.
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