Iran has lodged a protest with Saudi Arabia over the execution of three Iranian citizens accused of smuggling hashish, warning that the Saudis’ appetite for executions is a source of continuing tension between the two countries.
“Countries refrain from executing such sentences by respecting bilateral relations and keeping in mind that implementing such sentences will not bear a positive effect on ties,” said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi, as quoted by Reuters.
The report notes that Saudi Arabia’s sharia-based legal system results in more executions than any country except China or… Iran.
“International monitoring groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say weaknesses in the Saudi justice system make convictions unsafe, and they have also criticized the frequent use of execution for non-violent offences,” adds Reuters, which notes most of these executions are carried out with public beheadings.
Iran lodged a protest with the Saudi envoy in Tehran over the executions of these three individuals, reminding him of “his government’s international commitments under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Rights,” according to Iran’s state-run news agency.
Reuters suggests that the controversy over these executions could be part of the larger Saudi-Iranian feud over regional politics, especially in Yemen, where the Saudis have led a bombing campaign against Iran-backed insurgents.
Al-Manar suggests another possible explanation for why the Saudis are very touchy about drug smuggling at the moment: a Saudi prince was arrested in Lebanon for using his private jet to smuggle drugs last month, and local activists claim his uncle has been turning a blind eye to drug smuggling in the city he rules.