A Saudi Arabian court on Sunday sentenced to death a member of an extremist group convicted of producing explosives used in a May 2004 suicide attack on a western company operating in Saudi Arabia's northwestern port city of Yanbu. According to reports, the court also handed down sentences ranging from three to 12 years to 10 other co-defendants convicted of lesser offenses, including financing the attack and sheltering those involved. Reports indicate that the attack stemmed from a 2003 al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] initiative, which sought to interfere [Reuters report] with relations between the US and Saudi Arabia. The accused reportedly have 30 days to appeal their sentences.
Saudi Arabia's justice system has drawn international criticism in recent years, especially with regard to its high number of executions. Last month a Saudi criminal court sentenced a militant to death [JURIST report] for his role in an attack on the US Consulate in Jeddah in 2004. In 2008 Amnesty International (AI) released a report [JURIST report] linking large number of executions in Saudi Arabia to flaws in the Saudi judicial system. In a report released earlier that year, AI found that Saudi Arabia executed more people per capita than any other nation [JURIST report]. According to that report, at least 12,52 people were put to death in 24 countries in 2008, with Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Pakistan and the US accounting for the vast majority of the executions. In July 2008 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report criticizing a lack of legal protections [JURIST report] for the 1.5 million migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Among other proposed reforms, HRW called on the Saudi government to amend the 2005 Labor Law to cover migrant workers.