Crime & Justice |

Saudi sentences Yemeni to death over theatre stabbing

By AFP

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An elderly couple walks on November 12th past the main gate of King Abdullah Park in Riyadh, where a Yemeni expatriate stabbed four performers during a live play the previous day. [Fayez Nureldine/AFP]

A Saudi criminal court sentenced a Yemeni man to death Sunday (December 29th) for a knife attack on a Spanish theatre group performing in Riyadh last month, state television said.

The court also sentenced an accomplice to 12 years and six months in jail for the November 11th attack, which Riyadh has linked to al-Qaeda, and which Madrid said left four performers wounded.

"The criminal court issues a preliminary ruling handing the death sentence to the perpetrator of the terrorist attack... in Riyadh," Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

The assailant, identified by Saudi police as a 33-year-old Yemeni, went on a stabbing spree during a live musical in the capital's King Abdullah Park, one of the venues hosting the two-month "Riyadh Season" entertainment festival.

Last week, Al-Ekhbariya said the attacker took orders from an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, but so far there has been no claim of responsibility from the group.

Al-Ekhbariya did not offer any details on his alleged accomplice.

Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition supporting the Yemeni government against the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) and has been involved in the fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is active in Yemen.

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Why attack artists?

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Saudi Arabia isn’t supporting Yemen or anything. Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with that, otherwise it could have given him an explosives vest, not a knife. We aren’t naïve to believe this news story. The man has the principles of zealousness, Arabism, and Islam which have almost disappeared.

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And maybe jealousy for Islam.

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