Executions 'a travesty'

RIYADH - Four Sri Lankans beheaded in Saudi Arabia this week for armed robbery were given a sham trial and two of them might not have known they were sentenced to death, an international rights group said yesterday.

RIYADH - Four Sri Lankans beheaded in Saudi Arabia this week for armed robbery were given a sham trial and two of them might not have known they were sentenced to death, an international rights group said yesterday.

The bodies of the four men, beheaded by sword in a public square in Riyadh on Monday, were displayed on wooden crosses for more than an hour as a deterrent amid fears of an increase in organised crime among expatriates.

The kingdom, which is home to Islam's holiest shrines, applies strict Islamic law and regularly beheads murderers, rapists and drug traffickers.

A director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said: "The execution of these four migrants, who had been badly beaten and locked up for years without access to lawyers, is a travesty of justice."

The men were not informed of an appeal hearing which upheld the verdicts against them.

Sri Lanka's government made an appeal for clemency in the case, which has highlighted the plight of migrant labourers.

Almost a third of Saudi Arabia's 24million people are foreigners.- Reuters

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