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31st October 2008, 17:34:32 UTC

On the morning of 4 April 2005, six young Somali nationals were taken from their prison cells in
Jeddah, western Saudi Arabia, and beheaded in public. Announcing the executions, the Saudi
Arabian Ministry of Interior stated that the six had been convicted of robberies, and that their
executions were ordered in October 2004. The news of the executions shocked the men’s
relatives in Somalia and Europe. The relatives were under the impression that the six men, who
were arrested in 1999, had been sentenced to five-year prison terms and flogging. The relatives
had failed to obtain official confirmation of the sentences, and became increasingly anxious
when the expected release date had come and gone and there was still no sign of the men. They
approached Amnesty International in 2004 but no further information could be obtained until the
announcement of the executions. Amnesty International then learnt that the six prisoners were
themselves unaware of the death sentences until the very morning of their executions. The six
had escaped war-torn Somalia in search of a better life only to fall victim to Saudi Arabia’s
relentless use of the death penalty. Their families were unable to recover their bodies for burial.

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