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Saudi executions continue as Indonesian migrant beheaded for (alleged) homicide

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Riyadh (AsiaNews) – The Saudi executioner strikes again, beheading an Indonesian immigrant worker for a murder that the man allegedly carried out in the summer of 2004. Activists and human rights organizations complain about the lack of protection of the rights of the accused, who was denied legal assistance and whose confession was extorted under duress during the trial. Furthermore, the authorities gave their assent to the execution without informing the leaders of the Jakarta government who, through President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, had appealed for clemency.

According to reports by the NGO Migrant Care, which deals with the status of Indonesian workers in the world, Zaini Misrin – a professional chauffeur – was executed by beheading on 18 March. The 53-year-old man was arrested in 2008 for the murder – four years earlier – of his employer.

During the trial the defendant was pressured; the judges forcibly extracted the confession, depriving him of legal assistance and providing him with only a translator in the courtroom. Witnesses report that it was the interpreter who extracted the (alleged) confession with deception, in the face of a crime that he did not commit.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia failed to notify Indonesia of the imminent execution, leaving the foreign ministry and the Indonesian consulate in Jeddah unaware of the matter. “The trial in Mistrin and its execution – emphasizes the director of Migrant Care Wahyu Susilo in a note – represent a blatant violation of human rights”. He also suffered “pressure and intimidation” from the Saudi authorities.

In recent years, the Indonesian president Widodo has repeatedly appealed for the extradition of man. His story emerged during the 2015 meeting between the Indonesian head of state and King Salman, during the visit of the monarch in the Asian country. However, repeated calls have gone unheard.

A report prepared by some AFP experts show that, since the beginning of the year, Saudi Arabia has executed at least 30 immigrants of different nationalities. And from the rise to power of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs) executions have more doubled: since his nomination last June the executioner has struck in at least 133 occasions, compared to 67 of the previous eight months.

Human rights organizations and many Western governments have been fighting for years to impose fair trials and less cruel executions on the Saudi kingdom (Sunnita wahhabita). Saudi Arabia – which has strict observance of sharia, Islamic law – is the only country in the world where the death sentence can be executed by beheading in public places.

Capital punishment in the kingdom is foreseen for those guilty of murder, armed robbery, rape and drug trafficking, but also for witchcraft and sodomy. No less cruel are convictions for minor crimes, such as theft and the crime of opinion, which in addition to imprisonment, provide for the cutting of the hand or foot and public flogging.

In the past the number of executions was so high that it resulted in a “lack” of executioners.

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