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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 16:34 GMT
Saudi beheading sentences: Should Britain intervene?
Lt Col Abdul Aziz - alleged torturer of Scottish accountant Ron Jones
Two Westerners are incarcerated in a Saudi Arabian jail having been sentenced to be beheaded.

Five other Westerners are in the same jail but the legitimacy of their convictions for planting bombs has been called into question.

An eighth detainee, Scottish accountant Ron Jones, says he was tortured. He has given a description of the man who tortured him, from which an illustration has been produced.

The Saudis claim the ex-pats are killing each other in a turf war over illegal alcohol sales, but the facts don't add up.

The BBC Two Correspondent film 'Saudi Arabia - State of denial': Sunday 24 November 1915 GMT - considers whether or not, the real culprits behind 11 bombings are Islamic extremists loyal to Osama Bin Laden.

Should Britain challenge the Saudi Arabian government on its human rights record in general and the practice of torture in particular?

Should sovereign states be the masters of their own justice, or do other countries have a right to criticise internal matters such as public executions?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

We have no right to tell another country how to run its own affairs. We should however ensure that the convictions are fair. If they are truly guilty then they must be subject to the laws and punishments of that country. If we don't like it we could of course refuse to trade with Saudi Arabia, some hope of that!
Peter, UK

Don't single out Saudi Arabia for condemnation ahead of the supposed civilized democracies of the West

Colin Morley, UK
Yes beheading is barbaric. But is it any more barbaric than death by electric chair or lethal injection as our so called "allies" in the US perpetrate? By all means protest against the death penalty wherever it is carried out, but please don't single out Saudi Arabia for condemnation ahead of the supposed civilized democracies of the West.
Colin Morley, UK

If these guys are found to have broken the laws in another country then they must face the consequences. I don't agree with the death sentence, but that is just an opinion. I cannot dictate to the people of another country and I accept that totally. However, if the accused have not had a fair trial, and have been tortured then this is unacceptable. Torture of individuals who have no case proved against them is not "divine law", it is barbaric cruelty for the sake of the sick minds that practice it. The international community should accept sentencing, whatever that may mean, but only after a reasonable case for defence has been examined and more importantly documented.
Brendan MacLean, Birmingham, UK

It is impossible to comment on this specific case. Apart from the Britons themselves and the Saudi authorities, no one can ever know the real truth. However, in general, it is wrong to intervene in the legal processes in foreign countries. The best way to avoid being detained, executed or tortured in another country is to abide by their laws. Being a westerner is not a licence to do as you please. If there is any perceived need to intervene in the affairs of another country perhaps the UN would like to consider the human rights violations of the US. At home and abroad.
Andy, UK

Normally I would say that people should abide by the laws of the country they are in, and suffer the consequences if they choose to break the laws in the same way as anyone else in that country. However in this case in my view they haven't had a fair trial, and are unlikely to be connected to the crime in any way, just convenient to hide the underlying problems in Saudi.
Steve, England

Whilst we're all beholden to obey the laws of the countries we visit, I feel there is a strong argument that there should be an international court to handle cases where foreigners face radical sentences. This would apply not just to the case of the Britons in Saudi Arabia, but also the other way around, such as foreigners in the US states where the death penalty applies. If we can do it for terrorism and war crimes, why not for others? With experts on the laws of different lands, at least there is a chance of proper justice being done.
Jenny, UK

Let's face it, if it wasn't for their oil and strategic position, the UK would be giving the Saudis hell over this. The sooner we free ourselves from our dependence on the one resource they happen, by chance, to control, the better for global politics.
Alex Duggan, UK

Responsible governments worldwide should condemn every act of inhumane treatment meted on prisoners

Ojukwu Gregory, Lagos, Nigeria
Nations should be masters of their own justice but justice should be tempered with due consideration especially when foreign nationals are involved and more so where there is no substantial evidence against the accused. Responsible governments worldwide should condemn every act of inhumane treatment meted on prisoners. "Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere," JKF said. No country is an island in itself. Remember what goes around comes around.
Ojukwu Gregory, Lagos, Nigeria

I am opposed to the death sentence under any circumstances. The UK government must intervene in a way that makes this mockery of justice internationally infamous. As a compromise, the Saudis could try the accused in an international court.
M Connor, UK

I lived in Saudi Arabia for many years in the 80s. People in the West have no idea how different life is over there. My perception was that if you are not Muslim you are thought of as worthless. Eight people are going to find this out the hard way.
James, UK

When in Rome. When Westerners migrate to other countries they should know the laws that would concern them at least. Money can make a good man turn bad so I think before we start whining we should see if they are truly guilty first.
Hadyn Lassiter, USA

Britain should first confront its closet ally the United States about its barbaric practice of the death penalty, before it goes lecturing its former colonies!
Zach Namiah, India

Saudi Arabia: State of denial

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02 Nov 02 | Country profiles
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