(MENAFN - Arab News) A special criminal court on sunday convicted five people of terror related charges and sentenced them to death. thirty-seven others were sentenced to varying prison terms for their involvement in deadly 2003 attacks that marked the start of a wave of al-qaeda violence an official statement said.
the 42 were part of an 85-member terror cell the statement added.
the public prosecutor had issued more than 1000 charges against the defendants as they had broken into al-hamra granada and vinnell residential compounds in riyadh along with terrorists.
they were accused of taking part in bombing the three compounds in may 2003 as they helped the suicide bombers in preparing bombs and conspiring to carry out the attacks the statement said.
dozens of saudis and expats were killed and wounded in car bombings that ripped through three residential compounds in riyadh where foreigners lived.
thirty-seven defendants were given jail terms ranging from three to 35 years. the suspects were also convicted of plotting and carrying out an attack on a military base near riyadh and of providing financial and logistical support to their now-slain leader turki al-dandani.
al-dandani was a top al-qaeda operative who was eventually killed in clashes with police.
authorities set up special courts in 2011 to try dozens of saudis and foreigners accused of belonging to al-qaeda or of involvement in the wave of unrest unleashed in 2003.
following the kingdom's campaign against al-qaeda terrorists many of them fled to neighboring yemen where in 2009 they joined local militants to form al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula now seen as one of the most dangerous branches of the movement around the world.
saudi arabia has put on trial hundreds of accused militants in recent months jailing many of them and sentencing others to death on charges that they played a role in the 2003-2006 campaign or aided those going to fight in iraq or afghanistan.
the kingdom added al-qaeda organizations fighting in syria to its list of banned terror groups.