In the face of scalding criticisms over her human rights record, the government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded a woman in public glare with a sword over convictions that she sexually abused and murdered her seven-year old step-daughter.

The Burmese woman, Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim, was dragged through the street before being held down by four policemen to be beheaded by sword in Mecca. The video footage of the execution earlier posted on Youtube showed it took three blows of the sword to execute her, and she was screaming “I did not kill. I did not kill” throughout the process.

YouTube has removed the execution video based on its policy on “shocking and disgusting content”.

“One way is to inject the prisoner with painkillers to numb the pain and the other is without the painkiller,” said Mohammed al-Saeedi, a human rights activist. “This woman was beheaded without painkillers – they wanted to make the pain more powerful for her.”

The Saudi Ministry of the Interior released a statement upholding its belief in the justification of the execution given the convictions slammed on the woman. The ministry maintain that her sentence was warranted in the face of her crimes.

“Corporal punishment is nothing new in Saudi Arabia, but publicly lashing a peaceful activist merely for expressing his ideas sends an ugly message of intolerance. Saudi Arabia is showing a willingness to inflict vicious and cruel punishments on writers whose views it rejects,” said Sarah Leah Wilson, the Middle East and North Africa director of the Human Rights Watch.

The Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi had been jailed 10 years and is to receive 1,000 lashes of cane at an installment of 50 lashes every Friday for insulting Islam on his website, Free Saudi Liberals. He will be lashed every week for the next 18 weeks until the sentence is complete – but today’s due lashing is postponed because of his ailing health. However, Badawi is lucky to miss the death penalty because a court threw out the apostasy charges held against him. But Amnesty International continue to campaign for his release.

Beheading criminals in Saudi Arabia is considered a generous punishment because the judges are free to order execution by firing squad or stoning. Any crime that borders on rape, adultery, armed robbery, and murder among others carry the capital sentence in Saudi Arabia.

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