THE number of sick executions in Saudi Arabia has DOUBLED in recent years  – with people beheaded for bizarre reasons including “sorcery” and for simply being gay.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bloodthirsty regime is once again being scrutinised after 37 men were killed in one day this week.

Two of the prisoners were aged 16 and 17 when they were convicted while another man’s body was impaled on a pole in public as a terrifying warning to others.

Outwardly, the Crown Prince insists he wants to modernise his medieval kingdom yet still allows crucified bodies to hang in the streets of capital Riyadh.

His ruthless government has presided over a brutal crackdown on drug users and on the Shiite minority who are often accused of being terrorists or Iranian spies if they speak out against the regime.

The average number of people executed in the country has risen from an average of 71 between 2009 and 2014 to 142 between 2015 and now.

Over that period a total of 1,137 have been officially killed by the state – although the exact number be higher-  which includes people who are mentally handicapped, according to Amnesty International.

Women executed publicly in Riyadh’s infamous “chop chop square” are sometimes branded “witches” and convicted of “sorcery.”

MEDIEVAL BRUTALITY

In 2011, Amina bin Salem Nasser was executed for practising “witchcraft” in the northern province of Jawf while another woman the following year was killed because she wore a talisman – a necklace believed to hold magical powers.

A few months before Nasser was beheaded, a Sudanese man was executed in a car park in Medina for allegedly practising black magic.

Executions for drug offences have risen dramatically from just four per cent in 2011 to 47 per cent in 2015 – and the majority of those killed are foreign nationals.

Dr Paul Stott, Middle East expert at the Henry Jackson Society think tank, said convicted foreigners in Saudi are usually low paid workers who do not have the resources to fight the charges.

He told The Sun Online: “The regime has decided to crackdown on drug crime and just under half of those executed are foreign nationals who are underpaid workers who can’t influence the judicial system.

“These are people who don’t have important relatives or friends – whose governments aren’t going to campaign hard for them.”

 A man is brutally flogged by uniformed guards in Saudi Arabia

The backward country also executes men and women for engaging in homosexual activity although it does release any official figures about how many gay people it beheads every year.

In 2009, a man named Ahmed bin ‘Adhaib bin ‘Askar al-Shamlani al-‘Anzi was executed for a number of charges including “homosexual intercourse” and possesion of pornography.

He had his head removed in front of a baying crowd in Riyadh before his body was crucified and put on display.

This week’s mass execution appears to be a direct attack on the Shiite Muslim minority which makes up around 20 per cent of the population in the Sunni-dominated country.

In 2016, the regime executed 47 men in one day many of whom were from the troubled Eastern Province where the majority of the Shiites live.

Dr Stott said that Saudi’s “paranoia” about regional rival Iran, which is Shiite majority, is directly linked to these ruthless purges.

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