DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi court sentenced two men it said were al Qaeda followers to death on charges of decapitating a Saudi intelligence service colonel in 2007, local media reported on Tuesday.
The men attacked Colonel Nasser al-Othman at his farm near the city of Buraidah in northern Saudi Arabia, tied him up and severed his head because they viewed him as an apostate, online news website sabq.org said, citing the court ruling.
Between 2003 and 2006, al Qaeda carried out a campaign of attacks in the kingdom against Western and Saudi targets that killed hundreds of people.
Since stamping out the insurgency, Saudi Arabia has convicted and sentenced hundreds of people to prison or death for militancy. It executed dozens on Jan. 2.
In Tuesday’s verdict a third man was sentenced to 30 years in jail for attempting to kill the commander of emergency forces in Saudi Arabia’s northern Qassim region, Dubai-based al-Arabiya television channel said.
The court ruling, published by al-Arabiya on its website, did not identify the three convicted men.
A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed the court verdict was an initial ruling which was subject to levels of appeal before it can be implemented.
Death sentences must be signed by the king before they are carried out.
Human rights groups say Saudi Arabia’s justice system is flawed and that its campaign against Islamist militants has also been used to suppress peaceful dissent.
Saudi Arabia says the system is fair and independent.
Since 2014 Islamic State, like al Qaeda a predominantly Sunni hardline group, has carried out attacks in the kingdom that have killed dozens and led to hundreds of arrests.
Reporting by Mariam Abu Bakr and Abeer Abu Omar, editing by Sami Aboudi