A Saudi man was convicted for a crime he committed 10 years ago and the judge ruled he will be sentenced to paralysis as punishment. Ali al-Khawahir's crime resulted in the victim having to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Al-Khawahir was convicted of stabbing his best friend when he was 14, nearly 10 years ago, reports Fox News. The stabbing led to the victim’s paralysis, and a judge ruled that if Al-Khawahir could not pay the punitive damages of 1 million Saudi riyals, approximately $266,000, he would be paralyzed.
Al-Khawahir has already spent 10 years in prison for the crime and supporters have helped raised money to pay the fine, notes Fox News. The punishment is described as “eye for an eye” and Al-Khawahir’s mother has urged people to raise money for her son, notes Saudi Gazette. Ali’s mother spoke to Al-Hayat, a daily Arab newspaper, and 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 paralyzed.”
Sky News notes that Saudi Arabia follows a version of Islamic Shariah law and Al-Khawahir’s sentence is part of “qisas,” or “retribution,” according to Sky News, which follows the line of equal punishment for a crime or a pardon in exchange for money. Qisas is similar to the ancient Code of Hammurabi, where a punishment for a crime is based on the crime itself. In this case since Al-Khawahir paralyzed his friend his punishment is paralysis unless he can pay the fine, which some people describe as “blood money.”
Amnesty International called the paralysis sentence “outrageous.” Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said, “Paralyzing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture.” Harrison called on Saudi officials to start following international laws and respecting human rights even though the country has a history of flogging individuals as a punishment.
A previous sentence of paralysis occurred in 2010 although Amnesty International did not know if the sentence was carried out. The human rights organization also pointed out that Saudi Arabia also enforces sentences of amputation, usually for crimes involving theft and robbery, where a convicted criminal could lose either their right hand, for theft, or both hands for robbery.
Other qisas sentences have led to criminals having their eyes gouged out or their teeth removed, as well as execution, notes Amnesty International.