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Saudi and its death sentences
Saudi has amended its criminal law, thanks to which, a death sentence will have to be unanimously agreed upon by all the judges involved in the case before it is passed.
January 12, 2010 2:16 by Aarti Nagraj
Even as Saudi Arabia carried out its first execution of the year on Monday, the kingdom’s Shura Council passed a legislation amending the procedure for passing the death sentence in the country. The amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law states that the death sentence can only be meted out if it is approved unanimously by the judges, reports Gulf News. Currently, the law says that a majority vote from the judges is adequate to pass the death sentence.
The amendment also states that lower court verdicts awarding the death penalty or sentences dealing with the severing of hands or similar punishments will not be carried out without a verdict from the Supreme Court, says the report.
Although there has been opposition from some members about the validity of the new amendment, it was approved by the majority of the council, the report says.
According to the sharia law enforced in the kingdom, courts can enforce the death penalty for cases involving rape, murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking. In 2009, 67 people were executed, as compared to 102 people in 2008 and 153 people in 2007. Most of the deaths in the kingdom are carried out by beheading.
Saudi Arabia has been under pressure from western governments and human rights bodies to abolish the death sentence in the country. Earlier this month, the Saudi Supreme Court revoked the death sentence of two young men charged with the murder of a 19-year-old during a school fight in Jeddah in 2007. The death sentence was passed by two lower courts before reaching the Supreme Court.