MANAMA, Saudi Arabia, March 10 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabian lawmakers are debating making a switch from beheading with a sword to a firing squad when carrying out public executions, authorities said.
Ministers from a number of different departments of the Saudi Arabian government are investigating whether a firing squad makes more sense than beheading by a sword, Gulf News reported Sunday.
A local official told Arabic daily al Youm: "A specialized committee made up of representatives from the ministries of interior, justice and health as well as the commissions of investigation and prosecution, the public security and the prison general directorate are looking into a study that replaces beheading by a firing squad."
The official said a major reason for the switch is that there are a limited number of executioners by the sword.
"They are not readily available everywhere and on some occasions, executions were marred by confusion as the executioner was late in showing up at the designated public place, causing confusion and sparking speculation and rumors," the official said.
So far this year, 15 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News said. Offenses that are punishable by execution in the country include murder, rape, armed robbery, repeated drug use, apostasy, false prophecy, witchcraft and sorcery.