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Iran condemns Saudi mass execution after suspending talks

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TEHRAN: Iran has strongly condemned Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of convicted criminals over the weekend, saying the move violates “basic principles of human rights and international law.”

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people convicted of crimes including 7 Yemenis and one Syrian ranging from killings to belonging to militant groups, the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number of executed surpassed even the toll of a January 1980 mass execution for the 63 militants convicted of seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979, the worst-ever militant attack to target the kingdom and Islam’s holiest site.

In a statement late on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Saturday’s mass execution by Saudi authorities of 81 men reportedly convicted of terrorism and capital crimes was carried out “without observing fair judicial processes.”

Saudi Arabia accused 81 men of crimes including murder, rape, arms smuggling, and ties to terrorist groups.

It was the largest mass execution in the country’s history.

In a strong protest, Khatibzadeh said the executions and violence “were not a solution to the crisis of their own making,” accusing the Saudi government of “covering up political and judicial turmoil” and “repressing the people.”

Iran’s statement came hours after Iran temporarily suspended a fifth round of tension-easing talks with Saudi Arabia brokered by Iraq which were set to resume on Wednesday after a long pause.

While it did not cite any reason for the unilateral decision, observers believe the executions could have been a trigger.

The two Persian Gulf neighbors fell out in January 2016 following attacks on two Saudi diplomatic missions in the cities of Tehran and Mashhad which were triggered by Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Baqir Nimr al Nimr.

Efforts to repair the ties started in April last year, with four rounds of talks taking place so far brokered by Baghdad.

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