Saudi Arabia arrests man for filming public beheading

Officials say documenting execution of woman in the street could constitute a cyber-crime under the nation’s laws

Illustrative: A woman is seen kneeling on the ground ahead of her execution in Saudi Arabi as a swordsman dressed in white stands above her, January 17, 2015. (Screen Capture: YouTube)
Illustrative: A woman is seen kneeling on the ground ahead of her execution in Saudi Arabi as a swordsman dressed in white stands above her, January 17, 2015. (Screen Capture: YouTube)

Saudi authorities have arrested a man who filmed the public execution of a woman on the street, with officials saying that filming the video, which was posted online and spawned many reports in Western media, likely constituted a cyber-crime.

The video, uploaded on Saturday, showed the beheading of a Myanmar woman found guilty of killing her husband’s young daughter, as she screamed that she was innocent.

The official Saudi Press Agency said Layla bint Abdul Mutaleb Bassim was executed in the Muslim holy city of Mecca for killing the six-year-old girl.

“Investigations led to her trial which proved she was guilty,” the interior ministry said, quoted by SPA.

The child, also “Burmese,” died from a beating and from being raped with a broomstick, it said.

“I did not kill. There is no God but God. I did not kill,” cries the woman, covered in black, apparently kneeling on the pavement circled by police officers in the video on LiveLeak.

“Haram. Haram. Haram. Haram. I did not kill … I do not forgive you … This is an injustice,” she screams in Arabic, using the Islamic term for something that is forbidden.

The executioner, dressed in a white robe, forces her to lie down on the ground, near a pedestrian crossing. Mountains are seen in the distance.

“I did not,” she continues before a final scream as the executioner’s curved sword severs her head, in a traditional execution for the kingdom, which carries out death sentences in public.

A voice then reads out her crime.

Many Twitter users protested the video being circulated on the Internet because it could be seen by the woman’s family, but did not object to the beheading itself.

Saudi authorities said a man was arrested for filming the incident. They did not say what the arrest was for, but an interior ministry official told The New York Times such an act would fall under cyber-crime laws.

Several other videos purportedly showing beheadings in Saudi Arabia have circulated online over the past three years.

Bassim was one of 10 people executed so far this year under the kingdom’s strict version of Islamic sharia law.

Saudi Arabia executed 87 people last year, up from 78 in 2013, according to an AFP tally.

A United Nations special rapporteur has said trials leading to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia are “grossly unfair.”

The kingdom had the third-highest number of recorded executions in 2013, behind Iran and Iraq, Amnesty International said.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in the oil-rich Gulf state that is a close ally of Washington.

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