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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Saudi sentences four to death for forming 'Iran cell'

Court alleges the men were plotting the assassination of 'prominent figures'

Saudi King Salman speaks during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council. A Saudi court sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures". Alex Brandon / AP
Saudi King Salman speaks during a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Bilateral Coordination Council. A Saudi court sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures". Alex Brandon / AP

A Saudi court has sentenced four people to death for links to regional rival Iran, alleging that they were plotting the assassination of "prominent figures", state media said on Thursday.

"The criminal court has sentenced four terrorists to death for forming a cell for Iran," the state-owned Al Ekhbariya TV reported.

"The terrorists were trained in camps in Iran" and "planned to assassinate prominent figures," Al Ekhbariya said, without giving any more details on those convicted.

Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power, have a long history of rivalry. They today stand on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen.

In December 2016, a Saudi court sentenced 15 people to death for spying for Iran, according to local media. A source told Agence France-Presse then that most of them were members of the kingdom's Shiite minority.

Earlier in 2016, regional tensions spiked when Riyadh executed prominent Sasudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests, for "terrorism".

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