In its 95th execution of the year, Saudi Arabia executes a Nigerian for police murder

Saudi authorities put to death a Nigerian on Sunday after convicting him of murdering a policeman, the latest in a surge of executions that has drawn concern from human rights groups.

It was 95th execution of the year in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom, which imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy.

Fahd Houssawi was put to death in the western city of Taif, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

He had been found guilty of strangling the policeman and beating his head against the ground until he died, the ministry said.

Amnesty International has warned that at the current rate Saudi Arabia could see more than 100 executions in the first half of 2016 alone.

The London-based watchdog says that the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences last year, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Its figures do not include secretive China.

The executions this year are “higher than at the same point last year,” Amnesty said.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for “terrorism” offences on a single day in January.

They included prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr whose execution prompted Iranian protesters to torch Saudi diplomatic missions triggering the severing of relations between the Middle East’s leading Sunni and Shiite powers.

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