Saudi Arabia has executed one of its own young princes for the first time in 40 years, sending what analysts described as a “strong message” to younger royals that they are not above the law.
Prince Turki bin Saud bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabeer was beheaded on Tuesday afternoon for murder after he shot another young man during a brawl at a desert camp in 2012.
His death sentence was confirmed by a royal decree issued by King Salman himself, who is a distant cousin of the executed man.
The interior ministry released a statement saying the royal death was proof of the government’s commitment to “implement the rules of Allah everywhere and against anyone who kills civilians and commits bloodshed”.
The prince, who was in his twenties, was one of an estimated 6,000 Saudi royals. He hailed from the al-Kabeer branch of the family, which is not directly in line to throne but nonetheless holds a prominent position with Saudi Arabia’s complex constellation of royalty.
Prince Turki was arrested after killing Abdul Karim Mohaimeed in December 2012, according to Saudi media reports. Another man was injured in the shooting.
The two young men were involved in a fight at a desert camp where many young Saudis go to drive their cars and get away from their parents.
According to one report, the prince became enraged after an argument and went to his Lexus and returned with a Glock pistol. He killed Mr Mohaimeed and injured another man.
A grainy video published on Iranian television claimed to show the quarrel that led to the shooting. In the unconfirmed footage a group of men can in traditional Saudi garb can be seen milling around before one figure in dark clothing begins firing bursts of shots.
“This ruling and execution was a strong message sent to the royals, young royals and to Saudis in general that no one is above the law,” said Fahad Nazer, senior political analyst at JTG Inc, a analysis firm.