Saudi Problem: Not Enough Swordsmen for Executions

Firing squads now an acceptable alternative
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2013 2:07 AM CDT
Updated Mar 11, 2013 3:44 AM CDT
A Saudi prince leads a traditional sword dance.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) – The only country in the world that still beheads criminals is facing a shortage of swordsmen, leading Saudi Arabian authorities to rule that using a firing squad is an acceptable alternative to publicly lopping the heads of those convicted of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, and apostasy, the New York Times reports.

The few swordsmen officially authorized to behead criminals were so busy traveling between executions that they tended to arrive late, "which causes security confusion," a government report stated. The kingdom executed around 75 people last year and has executed 15 so far this year, including a Sri Lankan maid who was 17 years old when her employer accused her of killing his baby daughter.

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