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Saudi woman beheaded for sorcery,witchcraft

Riyadh, Dec 13 (): A Saudi woman convicted of practicing magic, sorcery and witchcraft was beheaded on Monday.

The Saudi interior ministry officially announced the execution of the woman but did not describe the crime for which she was convicted. The ministry also clarified that the verdict was upheld by Saudi Arabia’s highest court.

A statement published by the state news agency said Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was beheaded on Monday in the northern province of Jawf.

The London-based al-Hayat daily, however, quoted Abdullah al-Mohsen, chief of the religious police who arrested the woman, as saying “she had tricked people into thinking she could treat illnesses, charging them $800 per session.”

The woman was arrested in April 2009 and she was convicted later by a Saudi court for sorcery. She is only next to a Sudanese man by name Abdul Hamid bin Hussain bin Moustafa al-Fakki, who was executed for the same charges in September this year. An Egyptian national was executed on the charges of sorcery as he chanted to invite evil spirits to separate a married couple in 2007.

Amnesty International, a human rights group that appealed the Saudi government not to execute the Sudanese man said it had never heard of the case until now.

There were instances where some foreign nationals luckily escaped from being convicted under sorcery. A Lebanese man, who presented a fortune-telling programme in television was charge sheeted for sorcery. But later the supreme court of Saudi freed him on the view that it did not harm anyone.

Amnesty International has called for the kingdom’s government to establish an immediate moratorium on executions.

The human rights group said that the crime of sorcery has not been defined in Saudi Arabia’s criminal law but it is sad that the government goes on to execute people on these charges, which is against the right to freedom of expression.