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Spinal cord for spinal cord, Saudi court orders man be paralyzed

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A Saudi man convicted of paralyzing his best friend in a knife attack is now being threatened with having his spinal cord cut in an example of the "eye-for-an-eye" punishment doled out in this Middle Eastern kingdom. Saudi Arabia enforces Islamic law and on rare occasions issues "heroic" punishments.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are mitigating circumstances. Defendant Ali Al-Khawahir was only 14 years old when he stabbed his friend in the backbone. He's been imprisoned for 10 years.

According to newspaper reports, he has been told that he will be sentenced to being fully paralyzed himself unless he pays the victim blood money in a form of compensation.

Originally the victim requested two million Saudi Riyal, which is more than half a million U.S. dollars, but it has since been reduced to one million.

The young man's mother has begged people to contribute money to the fund. "Ten years have passed with hundreds of sleepless nights. My hair has become grey at a young age because of my son's problem," she beseeches.

"I have been frightened to death whenever I think about my son's fate and that he will have to be paralyzed," she said.

However - it must be noted that "eye for eye" punishments are rarely carried out here, and Saudi reformists are infuriated when such sentences are passed.

In one such example in 2010, 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi was left paralyzed and subsequently lost a foot after a fight more than two years ago. He asked a judge in north-western Tabuk province to impose an equivalent punishment on his attacker, his brother Khaled al-Mutairi told The Associated Press.

In another related instance, a Saudi court seven years ago pardoned an Indian man, Abdul Lateef Noushad, whose eye was to be gouged out.

He had blinded another man in a fight over money. The victim eventually pardoned the Indian after the case threatened to cause a diplomatic row. The reprieve came a day before Saudi's King Abdullah arrived in India on a state visit.

There are examples where these cases are carried out. An Egyptian worker had an eye surgically removed in a Saudi hospital as punishment for disfiguring a compatriot in an acid attack six years earlier.

It was the first time in 40 years that a Saudi court had applied literally the principle of "an eye for an eye", local media said at the time.

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