DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said it executed two Bahraini men on Monday after being convicted of belonging to a militant group wanting to destabilize the two Mideast kingdoms. Amnesty International and other rights groups have criticized their trial as being grossly unfair.
The Saudi Interior Ministry's announcement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, identified the men as Jaafar Sultan and Sadeq Thamer.
The Saudi statement said that the Specialized Criminal Court convicted the two men of belonging to a militant group spreading chaos and smuggling explosives to be used inside Saudi Arabia. It said the group is headed by a man wanted by the Bahrani authorities.
The statement did not identify the group or their leader, though Saudi Arabia had told the United Nations previously the men had been sentenced to life in prison in Bahrain in absentia. They also had their citizenship stripped.
Saudi Arabia has said the men had been detained in May 2015 on King Fahd Causeway, which links Bahrain to the kingdom, with 11 bags of RDX explosive weighing 38 kilograms (85 pounds), 50 detonating capsules and detonation cord.
Amnesty, however, had criticized their October 2021 trial and conviction, adding they also had faced charges for “participation in anti-government protests in Bahrain.”
“Jaafar and Sadeq had no access to legal representation throughout their pre-trial detention and interrogations,” the rights group said in a statement in May 2022. “According to court documents, they told the court that they were tortured and that their so-called confessions were extracted under duress.”
The kingdom has called the torture allegations “entirely unfounded,” though other prisoners have faced torture in Saudi custody.
The execution took place in Saudi Arabia's predominantly Shiite Eastern Province.
Bahrain, an island nation in the Persian Gulf just across from Saudi Arabia, did not immediately acknowledge the executions. Bahrain has seen a low-level insurgency by militant groups since it cracked down on protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring. Videos purported to show small protests Monday in Dar Kulaib, Bahrain, the two men's village.
Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei, director at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, criticized both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia over the executions.
“The Saudi leadership feels they are immune from any consequences when they execute men they have tortured,” AlWadaei said in a statement. "The Bahraini regime is complicit as they failed to act to save the lives of their citizens, providing a green light to Saudi to proceed with their executions.”
Saudi Arabia is one of the world's top executors. It typically beheads prisoners sentenced to death.