Gulf News August 30, 2008, 23:36
Riyadh: The Saudi Interior Ministry has announced that authorities have beheaded a Malian man convicted of assaulting a woman and stealing her money and jewellery.
In Saturday's statement, the ministry says the man broke into a Saudi woman's home, beat her and threatened her with a knife before attempting to rape her. According to the ministry, the man also stole her money and jewellery. The man had also robbed various other stores, homes and cars.
According to an Associated Press count, the execution brings to 64 the number of people beheaded this year in the kingdom.
In 2007, Saudi was the number 1 country in the world for executions per capita. Extrapolating from the figure above for executions to date this year, 64, Saudi's execution rate has fallen by around half. Good news.
Amnesty International 2007 report
As in previous years, the vast majority of executions worldwide were carried out in a small handful of countries. In 2007, 88 per cent of all known executions took place in five countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA. Saudi Arabia had the highest number of executions per capita, followed by Iran and Libya.
Fortunately, while Oman still carries the death penalty on the statute books, executions are rare (and according to Amnesty International apparently there is only 1 person on death row in Oman, a man convicted of murder).
In addition, according to Amnesty, the last reported 'potential Prisoner of conscience' in the Sultanate, Taiba al Mawali, was released from the Women's Prison in Muscat, on 30 January, after serving a six-month prison term reduced on appeal from 18 months. Her arrest and sentencing followed her criticism of the Government following the mass arrests for treason in 2005 (over the conspiracy plot to overthrow the Government and bomb Muscat Festival, widely reported at the time).
Around 30 people were given varying prison sentences for the terrorist and seditious plot in May 2005, but were granted a royal amnesty by the Sultan of Oman on 9 June 2005. In a letter dated 13 July, the Grand Mufti of the Sultanate of Oman confirmed that all the detainees had been released. I think, given the facts as stated, Amnesty is a little off describing these guys as Prisoners of Conscience though.
You can read a recent interview with Taiba al Mawali here.