Saudi Arabia Beheads Drug Smuggler in 33rd Execution of 2015 (Al-Akhbar (Lebanon))

Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani convicted of heroin trafficking on Thursday, bringing to 33 the number of death sentences carried out so far in the first two months of the year.
Authorities executed Hafiz Wifaq Rasoul Shah in the Muslim holy city of Medina, an interior ministry statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.
“Investigations led to his confession and he was tried and found guilty,” the statement said.
The Pakistani city of Karachi is a key transit point for heroin from Afghanistan.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Gulf has become an increasingly important market for illicit drugs in recent years.
The Saudi government says it “is committed to fighting drugs of all kinds due to the physical and social harm they cause.”
Drug trafficking, rape, murder, apostasy and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom’s legal code that follows a strict Wahhabi version of Sharia.
Amnesty International said in its annual report Wednesday that death sentences are often imposed “after unfair trials.”
The London-based watchdog said some defendants claimed to have been tortured or “otherwise coerced or misled into making false confessions” before trial.
The Gulf nation executed 87 people in 2014 according to an AFP tally. More than 2,000 people were executed in the kingdom between 1985 and 2013, Amnesty claimed in a report.
However, felonies are not the only charges that can lead to the death penalty in the oil-rich kingdom. The Saudi terrorism law issued in early 2014 casts a wide net over what it considers to be “terrorism.”
Under the law, punishable offenses include ”calling for atheist thought in any form,” “throwing away loyalty to the country’s rulers,” and “seeking to shake the social fabric or national cohesion.”
Human Rights Watch urged the Saudi authorities to abolish the Specialized Criminal Court, the body that sentenced five pro-democracy advocates, including prominent activist and cleric Nimr al-Nimr, and many others to death, saying that analysis revealed “serious due process concerns” such as “broadly framed charges,” “denial of access to lawyers,” and “quick dismissal of allegations of torture without investigation.”
(AFP, Al-Akhbar)