Photograph — Saudiembassy.net

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud, was caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Lebanon using a private plane, in what is currently the biggest airport drug bust at the Rafik Hariri International Airport, in Beirut. Along with him were four other Saudi nationals who allegedly tried to load the Saudi-bound plane with two tons of Captagon amphetamine pills (in 40 boxes). They were arrested on Monday, September 26.

The boxes carried the Saudi Arabian emblem and the name of an Emir. Rafik Hariri’s airport authorities, as well as Lebanon’s judicial authorities are currently investigating the incident.

In Saudi Arabian law, the penalty for such a felony as that committed by Prince Mohsen (non-lethal crime) is execution; the criminal is beheaded, or made to face the firing squad, and it is so even for ‘lesser’ crimes. Another way criminals are punished in the country is through flogging, under which the culprits are usually put through a medical examination to determine them fit to receive the punishment.

Critics are of the opinion that Mohsen, like other royals that have been the subject of shocking controversies, past and present, will not face the full extent of the law, either in Saudi Arabia or Lebanon, where he was caught, based on his status and the relationship that exists between both countries.

Recently, in late September, another royal heir, Prince Majed Abdulaziz Al Saud, was arrested in his Beverly Hills home, following accusations of sex crimes, and various other crimes, including battery and assault of staff and guests. Reportedly, the Prince also had sexual relations with a male aide of his, while some others present were made to watch. The adrenaline-charged event followed a report that the prince had been partying for days, while intoxicated and using copious amounts of cocaine.

A not-so-different kind of ‘party’ involving the use of drugs and alcohol – available only in Saudi Arabia black markets – took place in 2010 in Jeddah, and another Saudi royal was at the centre of it. Saudi officials were aware of the event, but turned a blind eye. In 1999, Prince Nayef Al Shaalan smuggled two tons of cocaine to France, from Venezuela, but managed to receive protection in Saudi Arabia.

While it appears that members of the Saudi royal families are immune to the harsh laws of their country, regardless of whatever crimes they allegedly commit, ordinary citizens and foreigners are frequently exposed to the horrors of it for different reasons, and even for less alarming crimes. Only in rare cases – such as Prince Saud Al Saud’s sentencing in the UK for murder in 2010 – are some of these princes brought to book.

According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia has executed an estimated number of 2,208 people between 1985 and 2015, and 48.5 percent of them were foreign nationals. By 2015, the percentage of executions based on non-lethal crimes (under which drug-related offences fall) rose to 47. Between January and June of this year alone, 102 people have been executed.

Five other Saudi Arabia law and crimes-related facts

  • Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, although their Basic Law requires that the King complies with Sharia Law.
  • The country is the number three executioner in the world, after China and Iran.
  • Other ways in which criminals are punished include stoning, crucifixion, and amputation.
  • Crime cases that receive the most leniency under Saudi law usually involve rape crimes and woman/wife beating.
  • The human rights practice in the country is reportedly the worst in the world.

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