Monday 5 December 2016

Saudis behead their own young prince who killed man in desert brawl

Raf Sanchez Beirut

Published 20/10/2016 | 02:30

The death sentence was handed down by a court in 2014 and confirmed by a
royal decree from King Salman. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The death sentence was handed down by a court in 2014 and confirmed by a royal decree from King Salman. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Saudi Arabia has executed one of its own young princes in what is believed to be the first time in decades that a member of the royal family has been put to death.

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Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer was executed on Tuesday for shooting dead another young man during a brawl at a desert camp in 2012.

The Saudi Interior Ministry did not say how he was killed, but most of the 134 executions carried out in Saudi Arabia this year have been beheadings.

The death sentence was handed down by a court in 2014 and confirmed by a royal decree from King Salman (inset), who is a distant cousin of the executed man.

The ministry of the interior said the execution was proof of the Saudi government's commitment to "implement the rules of Allah everywhere and against anyone who kills civilians and commits bloodshed".

The last execution of a royal is believed to have been in 1975 when a prince was killed for assassinating King Faisal, his uncle. The prince, Faisal bin Musaid, shot the monarch inside his own palace and was later beheaded in front of a crowd in Riyadh. It remains unclear whether the 27-year-old assassin was mentally unstable or had a grudge against the king.

Prince Turki was arrested after killing Abdul Karim Mohaimeed in 2012, according to Saudi media reports. The two young men were involved in a fight at a desert camp where many young Saudis go to drive their cars and get away from their parents.

According to one report, the prince became enraged after an argument and went to his Lexus and returned with a Glock pistol. He killed Mr Mohaimeed and injured another man.

The execution comes as the Saudi government is grappling with how to reduce its country's generous welfare payments in response to the falling price of oil. The Arab kingdom has for decades kept its population in line with salaries and subsidies but a reforming new deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has cut those back.

The execution may be a way of signalling to the public at a time of austerity that the royal family is not above the law, even though the royals are often able to flout the country's strict morality codes.

Amnesty International said the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015.

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