Saudi authorities beheaded Tuesday two Pakistanis for drug smuggling in the ultra-conservative kingdom’s first executions of the year, the interior ministry said. Abrar Hussein Nizar Hussein was executed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after being convicted of trying to smuggle in heroin hidden in his stomach, the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
Zahid Khan Barakat was beheaded in Qatif, in Eastern Province, over a similar charge, a separate statement said. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 78 people, according to an AFP count.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia carried out 76 executions, according to a tally based on official figures. Rights group Amnesty International put 2012’s figure at 79. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the oil-rich nation’s strict version of Islamic sharia law.