BRITAIN has hit out at Saudi Arabia after it sentenced a man to be PARALYSED from the waist down for a crime he committed ten years ago. Ali al-Khawahir, 24, will be forcibly paralysed unless he pays one million Saudi riyals (£177,000) in compensation to his childhood pal who he stabbed in the back.
The punishment was branded “grotesque” by the Foreign Office (FCO) who demanded it not be carried out.
Al-Khawahir, who has already served ten years in jail, was only 14 at the time of the stabbing but this is not taken into account under strict Islamic sharia law.
An FCO spokesman said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that a Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to be paralysed in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was 14 years old.
“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.”
Amnesty International condemned the punishment as “utterly shocking”.
If implemented, the paralysis sentence would contravene the UN Convention against Torture and the Principles of Medical Ethics, Amnesty said.
Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia applies sharia law, which allows eye-for-an-eye punishment for crimes but allows victims to pardon convicts in exchange for so-called blood money.
Ann Harrison, the charity’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, 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.”
Saudi courts regularly sentence people to forms of corporal punishment.
In retribution cases, previous sentences have included eye-gouging, tooth extraction and death.
Flogging is mandatory for a number of offences and can also be imposed at the discretion of judges as an alternative or in addition to other punishments, Amnesty said.
Thieves are often sentenced to amputation of the right hand, while “highway robbery” is punished by cross amputation – cutting off the right hand and the left foot.