Five men beheaded in a mass execution conducted in Saudi Arabia were gay, a Sharia court heard.
One of the men executed had allegedly confessed to having sex with four of his co-accused ‘terrorists’.
The five men were among 37 who were beheaded in the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina last week. They were executed for conducting acts of terrorism or working as spies for Iran.
The mass execution was met with widespread international condemnation. Human rights groups have said it is likely the men’s confessions were obtained through torture.
Homosexuality is also punishable by death in the ultraconservative Islamic kingdom.
Doubts about the executed mens’ cases
The unnamed man allegedly confessed to homosexual acts and for hating the majority Sunni sect, a court document obtained by CNN states.
‘He said that he did all this because he belonged to the Shia sect and because he was against the Sunni sect and because of his hate for the state and its men and its security forces,’ the document reads.
According to the man’s lawyers, he denied all the charges against him and said his confession was a fabrication.
There have been extensive doubts about a number of the executed mens’ cases.
Those executed included Shiite religious leader Sheikh Mohammed al-Attiyah, who in the past had preached about peace and called for unity among the Sunni and Shia sects.
Two other men to be executed were Mutjaba al-Sweikat, 23, and the youngest of the group, 21-year-old Abdulkarim al-Hawaj.
Human rights campaigners said that al-Sweikat was severely beaten prior to ‘confessing’ to attending a protest in 2012, the Metro reports.
al-Hawaj, who was accused of spreading information about protests on WhatsApp, was arrested when he was only 16. He was denied a lawyer when he was arrested.
al-Sweikat and al-Hawaj were held in solitary confinement and their ‘confessions’ which were extracted through torture, according to human rights group Reprieve.
Following the executions, one of the men’s body and severed head were hung from a pole in a public square.
The United Nations condemned the executions and questioned the validity of the prisoners’ convictions.
The largest mass execution in Saudi Arabia’s history
The latest mass execution is the largest in the country’s history, though is in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s atrocious record on human rights.
The Saudi authorities justified the executions as a means of deterrence and in line with Islamic law. Some commentators believed the executions were also a political intended move to impress the US.
The Saudi government under King Salman has become emboldened during the presidency of Donald Trump, which has sought to strengthen financial ties with the kingdom.
The two governments have also expressed unity in their opposition to Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran.
According to official announcements, Saudia Arabia has executed around 100 since the start of the year.
In 2018 there were 149 people executed in the kingdom. According to Amnesty, most of those executed were for non-violent crimes such as drug smuggling.