Saudi Arabia sentences Qaeda members to death

Eight face capital punishment, 77 sent to prison on charges related to attacks against expatriates in Riyadh in 2003.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

A Saudi court has sentenced eight people to death and 77 others to prison on charges related to attacks against expatriate residential compounds in the country’s capital more than a decade ago, the official press agency said.

In the May 2003 attacks, gunmen shot and bombed their way into the three compounds in Riyadh. The assault left 35 people dead, including eight Americans and nine attackers.

The Riyadh bombings prompted the kingdom to launch a sweeping crackdown on al-Qaeda fighters, who officials say were behind the synchronised attack.

The verdicts reflect a renewed push by Saudi authorities, who have issued several similar verdicts in recent months against fighters accused of carrying out attacks in the kingdom or taking part in conflicts abroad.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday that Riyadh’s Specialised Criminal Court sentenced three people to death.

The court, which was created to handle terrorism cases, also ordered 40 defendants to serve prison terms ranging from two to 35 years.

A day earlier, the same court handed down five death sentences, while 37 others were given prison terms ranging from three to 35 years.

All were charged for either taking part or abetting in the attacks.

The defendants have 30 days to appeal. Their nationalities were not immediately disclosed. The case involves 85 defendants in total.

Source: AP