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Saudi 'drifter' sentenced to death by beheading

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Video showing Hagwalah in Saudi Arabia.

A middle-aged man in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to execution by public beheading after killing two people while ‘drifting’ his car, Reuters reports.

The man, who identified himself to police as “Mutannish,” which is Arabic for “he who ignores,” was engaging in a particularly reckless form of outlaw driving that is popular in the Kingdom and locally known as “Hagwalah.”

In videos posted to YouTube, large crowds are seen gathering by the side of the road to watch drivers skid their cars – often typical family sedans like Honda Accords and Hyundai Sonatas – through traffic at high speeds, sometimes heading in the wrong direction.

Several of the clips show out of control cars crash into the spectators causing serious injury, or even death. One particularly graphic video that surfaced in the internet in May a car rolled through a crowd as several passengers were thrown from vehicle. It has since been removed.

Faced with a growing problem, Saudi authorities are now treating fatalities caused by Hagwalah as negligent homicides, according to Reuters.

In 2005, a naval officer who killed three people in a similar accident was sentenced to death, but had the punishment reduced to 3,000 lashes and 20 years in prison.

It is not clear when Mutannish’s sentence is scheduled to be carried out.