Saudi beheads convicted rapist, murderer

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 08 2014 01:50 AM | Updated as of Aug 08 2014 09:50 AM

RIYADH - Saudi authorities beheaded a man Thursday for raping and murdering two women, the interior ministry said.

Awadha Ahmed Salem, a citizen of Yemen, was convicted of raping and killing the unidentified women and burning the corpse of one of them with acid, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

His execution in the western Medina region brings to 20 the number of death sentences carried out this year in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Saudi Arabia beheaded 78 people in 2013, according to an AFP count.

Last year, the UN High Commission for Human Rights denounced a "sharp increase in the use of capital punishment" there since 2011.

According to rights group Amnesty International, the number of executions rose from 27 in 2010, including five foreigners, to 82 in 2011, including 28 foreigners.

In 2012, the number of executions dipped slightly to 79, among them 27 foreigners.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of Islamic sharia law.