Letter: Saudi executions

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Sir: With reference to your leading article ('Saudi Arabia's way of death must change' 1 July), I believe these points will help to place the matter in perspective. As you acknowledge, the death penalty itself is not the issue. This is prescribed by the sharia, an integral part of Islam, for certain offences and, therefore, no representation from anyone will cause Saudi Arabia to abandon it.

1. The recent increase in the number of executions is entirely due to the increase in the incidence of crimes - especially drug-smuggling and rape - which until recently were virtually unknown in Saudi Arabia.

2. Before any executions are carried out there are three stages of judicial review that culminate with the Supreme Judicial Council.

3. All courts in Saudi Arabia ignore confessions submitted by the police and make sure that any confession is made voluntarily before the court.

Yours faithfully,



Royal Embassy of

Saudi Arabia

London, SW1