According to state media, Saudi Arabia has executed two Bahrainis suspected of planning terrorist attacks, bringing the total number of comparable killings this month to nine.
Jaafar Sultan and Sadiq Thamer, two Bahraini nationals, were accused of “joining a terrorist cell led by a man wanted in Bahrain,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
There was no immediate reaction from Bahraini authorities.
Nine terrorist defendants have been put to death in Saudi Arabia since May 2, one of the world’s most active uses of the death penalty. All but one of these executions took place in the country’s east, which is primarily home to the Shiite minority.
In Saudi Arabia so far this year, there have been more than 40 executions, according to a count by AFP based on stories from the state media.
An international uproar resulted from Saudi Arabia’s 2022 execution of 147 prisoners, including 81 on one day for crimes related to terrorism.
The two Bahrainis “received training in camps belonging to terrorist entities aiming to destabilise the security of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain”, SPA added.
They were also accused of aiding “terrorists” in Saudi Arabia by smuggling explosive materials and supporting plans to carry out terrorist attacks in the kingdom and neighbouring Bahrain.
Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq condemned the executions as a “crime”.
“These executions are arbitrary as the two men were subjected to coerced confessions under torture which were then used as evidence against them during an unfair trial, a practice prohibited under international law,” said Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei, director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
Riyadh “feels they are immune from any consequences” and Manama is “complicit” for failing to intervene on the men’s behalf, he added.
Sultan and Thamer were detained in Saudi Arabia on May 8, 2015, claims Amnesty International. Following “a deeply flawed trial based on torture-tainted confessions,” the rights group claimed in May, they were condemned to death in October 2021.
The Saudi government was urged in a letter from the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions to “halt any possible step towards the execution” of the two men and “ensure that they are re-tried in compliance with international law and standards” in June 2022.
According to a report released earlier this year by Reprieve and the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, more than 1,000 death sentences have been carried out since King Salman came to power in 2015.
Bahrain has also executed people in recent years for crimes related to terrorism. Iran disputes Bahrain’s accusations that it supports and harbors terrorists.
Majority-Sunni In order to suppress a primarily Shiite protest movement that began in 2011, motivated by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Saudi Arabia dispatched troops to Sunni-led Bahrain.
The recent increase of executions in Saudi Arabia coincides with the country’s efforts to improve public perception through extensive social and economic reforms as part of its “Vision 2030” reform agenda. Saudi Arabia is recognized for its stringent application of Islamic sharia law.