SAUDI ARABIA SENTENCES 30 SYRIANS TO DEATH - ACTIVISTS
April 21, 2008: Saudi Arabia sentenced to death at least 30 Syrians in recent months for alleged drug possession and jailed hundreds more, relatives and human rights activists said.
Three Syrians were beheaded last week for possession of illicit pills, they said. Activists said they knew of no other Syrians executed in the last few years.
"This arbitrary punishment is based on wild interpretations of the Koran. Trials lacked any modicum of justice," lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani said after meeting Syrian officials to raise the plight of the inmates.
"I hope regular citizens do not end up paying the price for bad relations between two Arab countries." Several relatives say the sentences are politically motivated, with ties between Damascus and Riyadh worsening in the last three years due to political differences over Lebanon. Saudi Arabia is home to a large Syrian expatriate community.
Hassani said hundreds of Syrians were in Saudi jails for drug-related crimes. Many of the prisoners had spent years without trial. Most were young lorry drivers and unskilled workers. (Sources: Reuters, 21/04/2008)