A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to death by beheading for participating in an illegal “drifting” event where he lost control of his vehicle and killed two people who were watching. Drifting is a sport where people drive a vehicle at a high speed and engage the emergency brake, making the back tires lose grip and skid out during a turn.
The driver is known only as Mutannish, or “he who ignores.” People frequently gather for these informal drifting exhibitions in Saudi Arabia, known as hagwalah, which can also include intentionally driving in the wrong direction.
Saudi Arabian officials are treating the incident as criminally negligent homicide, but with a harsher sentence. In 2005, another man killed three spectators while drifting but only received 20 years in prison. The court ruled that beheading is a suitable punishment “for his heinous deed and to deter others who tamper with the nation’s security.”
If this were to happen in Pennsylvania, the driver would likely be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor of the first degree, carrying with it a maximum sentence of up to five years of incarceration for each count, or perhaps homicide by vehicle, a Felony of the third degree, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison for each count.