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On eve of execution, Saudi asks for help

– Speaking over a smuggled cellphone from his prison cell, one of seven Saudis set to be put to death today by crucifixion and firing squad for armed robbery appealed for help to stop the executions.

Nasser al-Qahtani told The Associated Press from Abha General prison Monday that he was arrested as part of 23-member ring that stole from jewelry stores in 2004 and 2005.

He said they were tortured to confess and had no access to lawyers.

“I killed no one. I didn’t have weapons while robbing the store, but the police tortured me, beat me up and threatened to assault my mother to extract confessions that I had a weapon with me while I was only 15,” he said. “We don’t deserve death.”

A leading human rights group added its appeal to Saudi authorities to stop the executions.

Al-Qahtani, now 24, said he and the most of the ring were juveniles at the time of the thefts. They were arrested in 2006.

The seven received death sentences in 2009, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported then.

Last Saturday, he said, Saudi King Abdullah ratified the death sentences and sent them to Abha.

Authorities set today for the executions. They also determined the methods.

The main defendant, Sarhan al-Mashayeh, is to be crucified for three days.

The others are to face firing squads.

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