POLITICS

UK Condemns 'Eye-For-An-Eye' Paralysis Punishment Of Saudi Arabian Man, Ali al-Khawahir

04/04/2013 12:20 BST | Updated 09/04/2013 15:19 BST

The Foreign Office (FCO) has urged Saudi Arabia to overturn a decision by a court that would see a prisoner deliberately paralysed in an "eye-for-an-eye" punishment for a crime committed when he was a teenager.

Ali al-Khawahir was just 14 when he stabbed his friend in the back 10 years ago, paralysing him from the waist down.

Saudi Arabia's law of retribution, qisas, means he will face the same fate as his former friend if he cannot pay one million riyals (£250,000) in compensation.

On Thursday morning a spokesperson for the FCO in London 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 fourteen 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."

Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the move. In a statement, its Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Ann Harrison said: "Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture.

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"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."

Khawahir has spent the last 10 years in prison during which time his 60-year-old mother has campaigned for someone to raise the compensation needed to save her son.

She said: “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," reports the Saudi Gazette.