Riyadh: For the first time in four decades, Saudi Arabia executed a member of the royal family for murder on Tuesday after he was convicted of shooting another man to death during a brawl.
Prince Turki bin Saud Al Kabir was put to death in the capital Riyadh for shooting dead Adel Al Mahemid, a Saudi, during a brawl, the interior ministry said in a statement.
The rare event rocketed around the kingdom’s social media networks, with some Saudis saying they never imagined such a thing would happen and others arguing that it showed the quality of their justice system, which follows a strict interpretation of Shariah.
“The greatest thing is that the citizen sees the law applied to everyone, and that there are not big people and other small people,” Abdul Rahman Al Lahim, a prominent Saudi lawyer, wrote on Twitter.
Other Saudis lauded the monarch, King Salman, on Twitter under an Arabic hashtag that translated as, “Decisive Salman orders retribution for the prince.”
Al Kabir was the 134th put to death this year in the kingdom, according to an AFP tally of ministry statements.
Local media reported in November 2014 that a court in Riyadh sentenced an unnamed prince to death for killing his friend.
He lost his life and another person was injured in an exchange of gunfire following a dispute at a camp on the edge of Riyadh in December 2012, the media said.
Desert camps are popular gathering places for Saudis.
When the killer realised that his victim was a friend and colleague, he informed the police, media said.
The sentence reflected the kingdom’s “fair justice system,” Arab News quoted the victim’s uncle Abdul Rahman Al Falaj as saying.
Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword, often in a public square.
Members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are only rarely known to have been executed. One of the most prominent cases was Faisal Bin Musaid Al Saud, who assassinated his uncle, King Faisal, in 1975. The family is estimated to number several thousand.
“The government.. is keen to keep order, stabilise security and bring about justice through implementing the rules prescribed by Allah...,” said the ministry statement.
Saudi Arabia has a legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.
The kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015, making it the third top executioner after Iran and Pakistan, according to rights groups.
Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for terrorism on a single day in January.