A Saudi Arabian woman has been beheaded for practicing witchcraft and sorcery, according to a statement released by the Saudi Interior Ministry.
Amina bint Abdel Halim Nassar was beheaded in the northern province of Qariyat on Monday.
The statement from the interior ministry did not offer details on the crime, but the London-based al-Hayat daily quoted Saudi Arabia’s chief of religious police saying that the women tricked people into believing she could treat illness, charging $779 per session.
The paper also said that the women was in her 60s and was detained by officials back in 2009.
The beheading has led to the global human rights organization Amnesty International to call for a halt to executions in the country.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization called the beheading “deeply shocking.”
“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” said Phillip Luther of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.
Laws in the absolute monarchy are based upon Shariah law, interpreted by the country’s judicial leaders.
“While we don’t know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion,” Luther added.
Executions in the monarchy have almost tripled since 2010 and the execution of Nassar was the second execution over charges of sorcery in recent months. It is unclear why there has been a steep rise in the use of the death penalty by the kingdom.
The death penalty is applied to several offenses in the country including murder, rape, blasphemy, apostasy, adultery, and drug related offenses.
Saudi Arabia was of the minority of countries that voted against a 2010 United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. The resolution called for a general suspension of capital punishment, asking states to restrict the number of offenses punishable by death.