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Saudi Arabia beheads 3 drug smugglers in first executions of 2015

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (BNO NEWS) -- Three Saudi drug traffickers, including one who was convicted of killing a police officer, have been decapitated by sword in the kingdom's first executions in 2015, the government reported on Thursday, continuing a surge in beheadings that began last year.

One of the men, Hussein bin al-Dosari, had been convicted of killing a police officer who was part of anti-drugs unit and who was trying to arrest him. The second man, Mohammed Bashir, had been convicted of smuggling "a large quantity of methamphetamine" while the third, Malik bin Said al-Sayari, had been convicted for a second time for smuggling hashish.

Al-Dosari was beheaded in central Riyadh province, Bashir was beheaded in the city of Qurayyat in northern Al Jawf province, and al-Sayari was beheaded in Al-Ahsa district of Eastern province, the interior ministry reported, describing the executions as "religiously right."

"The Interior Ministry reminds the public that the Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud) - may Allah protect him - continues the fight against drugs of all kinds as it inflicts serious harm on the individual and society," the ministry said in its statement. "The most severe penalties on the perpetrators are derived from the righteous approach of Sharia law."

Thursday's beheadings continue a surge in executions that began in August 2014, angering human rights organizations because many of those killed were convicted of non-lethal crimes. "Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said Sarah Leah Whitson, of Human Rights Watch, last year.

Amnesty International also expressed its concern after four family members were all beheaded on the same day in August 2014 for merely possessing hashish. "The recent increase in executions in Saudi Arabia is a deeply disturbing deterioration. The authorities must act immediately to halt this cruel practice," said Said Boumedouha, of Amnesty International.

At least 87 people were executed in Saudi Arabia last year, following 79 executions in 2013. The kingdom applies the death penalty for a large number of crimes, including drug offenses, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft. Both witchcraft and sorcery are not listed as crimes but have been used to prosecute people for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion, according to activists.

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