Saudi prince executed for murder

BEIRUT • For the first time in four decades, Saudi Arabia executed a member of the royal family for murder after he was convicted of shooting another man to death during a brawl.

Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was put to death on Tuesday in the capital Riyadh, according to a report by the Saudi state news service. While the report did not detail the method used, most death penalties in Saudi Arabia are carried out by beheading in a public square.

The rare event rocketed around the kingdom's social media networks, with some Saudis saying they never imagined such a thing would happen and others arguing that it showed the quality of their justice system, which follows a strict interpretation of syariah law and is often criticised by human rights groups and Western governments for what they consider harsh and arbitrary punishments.

"The greatest thing is that the citizen sees the law applied to everyone," Mr Abdul-Rahman al-Lahim, a prominent Saudi lawyer, wrote on Twitter.

Tuesday's execution was the first time that a member of the royal family had been put to death for murder by the state since 1975, when Prince Faisal bin Musaid was beheaded in Riyadh for assassinating King Faisal.

Other Saudis lauded the monarch, King Salman, on Twitter, using an Arabic hashtag that translates as "decisive Salman orders retribution for the prince".

Saudi Arabia is one of the world's few remaining absolute monarchies.

The thousands of members of the royal family enjoy perks not available to the rest of the country's 20 million citizens.

Tuesday's execution was the first time that a member of the royal family had been put to death for murder by the state since 1975, when Prince Faisal bin Musaid was beheaded in Riyadh for assassinating King Faisal.

It was unclear how many people watched the execution of the prince on Tuesday or what their immediate reaction was.

Saudi Arabia has executed 143 people so far this year, according to a count by Human Rights Watch, which opposes the death penalty in all cases.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Saudi prince executed for murder'. Print Edition | Subscribe