Filipino beheaded in Saudi Arabia after being convicted of murdering his boss

RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi Arabia on Monday beheaded a Filipino convicted of murdering his boss, bringing to 40 the number of executions this year.

In just over two months, Saudi Arabia has beheaded almost half the number of foreigners and Saudis executed during all of 2014, according to AFP tallies.

Joven Esteva was found guilty of stabbing the Saudi in the chest, an Interior Ministry statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said. "The perpetrator had worked as a driver for him," the statement said.

“It is with sadness that we confirm the execution of Joven Esteva at 9am today, Saudi time, in Riyadh,” Foreign Department spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.“Regrettably, despite efforts of the Philippine government, (the) family of the victim refused to grant forgiveness,” he said, without giving other details.

The authorities carried out the sentence against him in Riyadh, adding to what Amnesty International calls an unprecedented pace of executions in the kingdom this year. London-based Amnesty says the number of death sentences carried out so far has been almost four times that for the same period in 2014.

The death penalty for murderers aims "to maintain security, serve justice, and implement the provisions of God", the Interior Ministry says.

But human rights groups have expressed concern about the dangers of the innocent being sentenced to death.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's version of Islamic syariah law.

There have been around 80 executions annually in the kingdom since 2011, with 87 last year by AFP's tally.

Saudi Arabia is among the world's top executioners, according to Amnesty.