Saudi Arabian court sentences man to paralysis
A Saudi Arabian court ruling that may result in a man being paralyzed in a form of eye-for-an-eye justice is being met with outrage.
Ali al-Khawahir, 24, was sentenced to qisas, or retribution justice, for allegedly stabbing a childhood friend 10 years ago. The friend was paralyzed in the attack which reportedly began as a dispute between the two.
According to reports, al-Khawahir must pay one million Saudi riyals -- the equivalent of US$270,000 -- in compensation to the victim, or face paralysis.
Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International, issued a statement saying the punishment would be akin to "torture."
"That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offences, as happens in Saudi Arabia," Harrison said.
"It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law."
According to Amnesty, such a sentence would contravene the United Nations Convention against Torture, to which Saudi Arabia is a signatory, as well as the Principles of Medical Ethics adopted by the UN General Assembly.
A spokesperson for Britain's Foreign Office said the agency was "deeply concerned" about the reports and called on the Saudi government to change the sentence.
"We urge the Saudi authorities to ensure that this grotesque punishment is not carried out. Such practices are prohibited under international law and have no place in any society," the spokesperson said in a statement.
Judges in Saudi Arabia are known to impose punishments such as flogging and even amputation for theft, as well as eye-gouging, tooth-extraction and death, depending on the crime, Amnesty International said.
A similar sentence of paralysis was reportedly issued in 2010. It isn't known whether the sentence was carried out, however.