A member of the royal family in Saudi Arabia was found guilty of murder and executed for his crime on October 18. It is rare for a royal family member to be executed in Saudi Arabia; the last time this occurred was in 1975, when Prince Faisal bin Musaid was beheaded.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was convicted of shooting a Saudi national during a group quarrel. The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia approved the verdict for his execution, and the decision has been “widely praised in the kingdom for establishing that the rule of law applies to everyone including royals,” says Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Intuition.
Not much is known about the personal life of the prince. It is typical that conservative Islamic countries do not release details about royal family members. However, the New York Times claims that he was a prominent member of “one of the most important branches of the royal family.” Even so, he was not in the line of descendants, and his relations to his family did not have an impact on the court while a decision was being made.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, a member of the royal family, told the New York Times that “the king has always said that there is no difference in the law between princes and others, and I think that [the court’s decision] is clear manifestation of the reality of that fact.”
According to the Interior Ministry, “the death penalty showed that it cared about ‘security, justice and safety for all.’” Saudi Arabia follows a strict and conservative view of Wahhabi Islam, which holds that criminal acts must be tried in compliance with the Sharia law.
The execution was enforced by King Salman, an unusual occurrence in his position. People have been active on social media to support the decision, despite the fact that he was a member of the royal family. A hashtag has also been trending on Twitter, stating: “Salman the divisive order, the punishing of a prince,” translated from Arabic to English.
King Salman ascended to power in January 2015 after his half-brother passed away. He was 79 when he rose to power, and was “viewed as a pragmatic and cautious reformer, much like his predecessor,” according to CNN’s Becky Anderson. As an experienced leader, Salman was familiar with the laws and policies in the Arab world, but he was also the family sheriff, often making sure offenses were dealt with minimal publicity.
According to CNN World News, King Salman is now being praised for “enforcing the law equally,” despite the growing number of executions in the country. Amnesty International reports that at least 158 individuals have been executed last year, which is a record high since 1995. At least 94 people have been executed in the past five months.