Saudi Arabia Sentences Man To Be Paralyzed

Chris Greenhough

Saudi Arabia has delivered a sentence of paralysis to a 24-year-old man found guilty of paralyzing his friend in a stabbing.

Reports from the Arab state say Ali al-Khawahir will be paralyzed from the waist down unless he pays his victim compensation of one million riyals ($265,000). The sentenced man has been in prison for 10 years since he was found guilty of stabbing a friend in the back in the Eastern Province town of al-Ahsa.

Human rights group Amnesty International has described the “outrageous” sentence as a “form of torture.”

The sentence falls in line with the Saudi Arabian law of qisas, or retribution. In Saudi Arabia, qisas means the victim of a crime can demand the perpetrator suffers the exact same punishment as he caused. In such cases, the victim can also request financial compensation or grant a conditional or unconditional pardon.

Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty, said:

“Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be 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. It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law.”

An Amnesty statement adds that Saudi Arabia law has previously overseen judicially approved eye-gougings and tooth extractions.

A number of offences in Saudi Arabia carry a sentence of flogging, while amputations have been carried out as a punishment for theft and “highway robbery.” The latter is punished with cross amputation (the removal of the right hand and left foot).