Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser was executed on Monday in the northern province of al-Jawf
“The citizen… practised acts of witchcraft and sorcery,” Saudi newspaper al-Watan cited the interior ministry as saying. “The death sentence was carried out on the accused yesterday (Monday) in the Qurayyat district in al-Jawf region.”
The London-based al-Hayat daily, quoted Abdullah al-Mohsen, chief of the religious police who arrested the woman, as saying she had tricked people into thinking she could treat illnesses, charging them $800 per session.
Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, has no written criminal code, which is instead based on an uncodified form of Islamic sharia law as interpreted by the country’s judges.
In September, Amnesty International called on the Muslim kingdom where 140 people were on death row to establish an “immediate moratorium on executions.”
The rights group said Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states which voted against a UN General Assembly resolution last December calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
“While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion,” Philip Luther, interim director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa programme, said in a statement.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
Amnesty says Saudi Arabia executed 27 convicts in 2010, compared to 67 executions announced the year before.