Saudi Arabia has taken the rare step of executing a member of its royal family after he was found guilty of murder, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Turki bin Saud Al-Kabeer was convicted in the shooting death of a man during a “group quarrel,” the statement said Tuesday, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The dead man was identified as a Saudi national.
The execution took place Tuesday. The statement did not include any details about the method of execution. In other cases in Saudi Arabia the death sentence has been carried out by beheading.
The guilty verdict was supported by an appeals court and later sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia. A royal order was then issued to execute the courts’ ruling, the press agency reported.
Report: ‘Blood money’ refused
The Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper based in Jeddah, said the victim’s family had refused offers of “blood money” and demanded justice be carried out.
It is extremely uncommon for a member of the Saudi royal family to be put to death in Saudi Arabia. In 1975, Prince Faisal bin Musaid was beheaded for assassinating King Faisal.
“The government … is keen to keep order, stabilize security and bring about justice through implementing the rules prescribed by Allah … on whoever violates the sanctity of civilians,” the Interior Ministry said.
King as ‘enforcer’
The execution was “very rare,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
“This execution has been widely praised in the kingdom for establishing that the rule of law applies to everyone including royals,” he told CNN.
“The King has been the enforcer of the royal family since his days as governor of Riyadh province where most royals live. He served in that position for a half century before becoming crown prince.”
Many in the kingdom have taken to social media to commend King Salman for allowing the execution to go ahead despite the man being a member of the Saudi royal family. Numerous posts have praised the Saudi King for enforcing the law equally.
One person using the handle @goromalbeshe took to Twitter, posting: “This is what we have known about (King) Salman the decisive may God grant him long age in his service. May God have mercy and the killer and the killed.”
Khaled Bin Saud al Kabeer, who appears to be a blood relative to the executed prince, tweeted: “In any case, praise to be to God. May God make implementing his law on son Turki Bin Saud bin Turki Bin Saud al Kabeer, a forgiveness for him and may have his place in heaven.”
Another user, @aboalrawe_a, wrote: “There is no doubt that Islamic sharia is practiced in Saudi Arabia.”
So fervent was discussion about the execution that a hashtag, which translates from Arabic to “Salman the divisive order the punishing of a prince,” began trending on social media.
King Salman ascended to the throne in January 2015 following the death of his brother King Abdullah.
According to the rights group Amnesty International, at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the highest recorded figure in the country since 1995. As of late May, at least 94 people had already been put to death this year, the group said.