After a dispute between two childhood friends 10 years ago left one of the them paralyzed from the waist down, a Saudi Arabian court has ordered that the other friend be surgically paralyzed unless he can pay compensation.
If he is unable to come up with about $273,000, Ali al-Khawahir, 24, will be paralyzed because Saudi Arabia uses Islamic Sharia law, which involves “eye-for-an-eye” punishment for crimes.
A spokesperson for the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that a Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to be paralyzed 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.”
The human rights group Amnesty International has also spoken out against the sentence, saying that it is similar to torture. The group claims that a similar sentence of paralysis was given in Saudi Arabia in 2010, but that it is unknown whether it was carried out, according to The Telegraph.
Ann Harrison, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law.”
She added: "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."
Al-Khawahir has been in jail for 10 years awaiting his punishment. His family has said that they do not have even close to the amount of money to pay the desired compensation.