Saudi Arabia Beheads Pakistani Drug Dealer

Saudi Arabia continues to use beheading as its favored means of capital punishment for an unusually broad range of capital offenses.

Gabe Kahn.,

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Saudi Arabia beheaded a Pakistani man who was arrested as he tried to smuggle drugs into the ultra-conservative kingdom.

"Salman Khan Taj Mohammad, a Pakistani... was arrested as he was caught smuggling a large amount of heroin" into the country, the Saudi Interior ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

The man was "interrogated and convicted of drug smuggling," a crime punishable by death under Saudi law.

Taj Mohammad was beheaded in Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia, SPA reported, bringing to five the number of Saudi executions carried out so far in 2012.

In most cases where Riyadh beheads a foreign national, the respective embassy is notified only after the execution, thereby eliminating chances for international or diplomatic protest.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced alarm this month at the almost threefold increase in executions in Saudi Arabia last year.

Saudi Arabia applies the death penalty for a wide range of offences, including rape, murder, apostasy, witchcraft, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

Saudi Arabia executed at least 76 people in 2011, according to an AFP count, while Amnesty International has said the kingdom executed 79 people last year.

One of the 2011 executions in Saudi Arabia was Amina Bint Abdulhalim Nassar, who was executed in the northern province of Jawf for "practicing witchcraft and sorcery,"  after authorities discovered she made fraudulent medical claims.

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

As recently as 2004 Saudi officials have ordered the remains of executed prisoners crucified and put on dispay in public squares.