Letter: Democracy and Saudi law

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The Independent Online
Democracy and Saudi law

From Sir James Craig

Sir: I was abroad when you published Robert Fisk's article about the beheadings in Saudi Arabia ("Secret Saudi executions shame the West", 9 October). So I hope you will allow this belated comment.

I am deeply opposed to capital punishment, and even more opposed to public beheadings. But what does the word "secret" mean in your headline and in Mr Fisk's phrase "the majority of the executions were kept secret from all but spectators"? Nothing could be less secret than that.

The Saudis have a legal system which, as criminals know, prescribes execution for certain offences. The system would not change if Saudi Arabia had the democracy that Mr Fisk advocates. It is what the people want. It would be our system too if (heaven forbid) public opinion had its way.

Yours faithfully,

James Craig

London, SW1

12 October

The writer was Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1979-84).