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Saudi Arabia beheads man for murder


Saudi Arabia beheaded a man convicted of murder on Sunday, the interior minister said in a statement, just two days after the UN expressed alarm at the scale of executions in the kingdom.

Jahaz al-Baqmi, who was executed in the southern Saudi city of Taif, was convicted of stabbing a man to death, according to a ministry statement released by the official SPA news agency, bringing the number of executions carried out in 2012 to four.

On Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced alarm at the almost threefold increase in executions in Saudi Arabia last year.

"We are alarmed at the significant increase in the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in 2011," said spokesman Rupert Colville at a regular press briefing.

"What is even more worrying is that court proceedings often reportedly fall far short of international fair trial standards, and the use of torture as a means to obtain confessions appears to be rampant," he added.

Saudi Arabia, which enforces a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences, including rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

At least 76 death row inmates were executed in 2011, according to an AFP count, while Amnesty International has said the kingdom executed 79 people last year.

In 2010, 27 people were executed, according to the UN, citing a report by Human Rights Watch.