Eye for an eye punishment leads Saudi Arabia to paralyse 24-year-old man

A Saudi Arabian man is due to be medically paralysed after a court ruling, if he does not raise the $266,000 needed to pay off a man he attacked ten years ago

by The Commentator on 3 April 2013 21:19

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Ali Al-Khawahir, a resident of Saudi Arabia who stabbed his best friend 10 years ago, is being threatened with medically induced paralysis if he does not come up with 1 million Saudi riyals (£176,000 or $266,000) to pay to the victim.

Al-Khawahir was sentenced to be fully paralysed as a punishment for causing paralysis to his best friend after stabbing him in the backbone, in a verdict that human rights groups have called, "outrageous".

The victim of the stabbing that is reported to have happened 10 years ago apparently requested 2 million riyals to forgive his assailant, but later reduced the amount to 1 million. Some friends of Al-Khawahir have since organised a campaign to raise the money for the man that has since been incarcerated.

"Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture," Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said. "That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offenses, as happens in Saudi Arabia."

Amnesty International said the paralysis sentence "would contravene the U.N. Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party and the Principles of Medical Ethics adopted by the U.N. General Assembly."

The group calls this an example of a "qisas," or retribution, case, adding that "other sentences passed have included eye-gouging, tooth extraction, and death in cases of murder.

Al-Khawahir was jailed when he was just 14 years old, his mother told Al-Hayat daily. His friend has been completely paralysed ever since the attack and has not been able to lead a normal life.

“Ten years have passed with hundreds of sleepless nights. My hair has become grey at a young age because of my son’s problem. I have been frightened to death whenever I think about my son’s fate and that he will have to be paralysed.”

But Al-Khawahir's mother also says she feels sorry for the victim, and that he deserves millions in compensation. The problem is, she says, the Al-Khawahir family is poor and does not have the amount necessary to avoid the "eye for an eye" ruling.

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