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Britain Urges Saudi Arabia Not To Carry Out Paralysis Sentence

Britain on Thursday voiced its concerns over a recent decision by a court in Saudi Arabia to sentence a man to paralysis as retribution for a crime he allegedly committed 10 years ago, and urged authorities in the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom to ensure that the "grotesque punishment" is not carried out.

"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 fourteen years old," a spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said in a statement.

"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," he added.

The case of 24-year-old Ali al- Khawahir was brought to light by recent Saudi news reports. Khawahir, who was reportedly sentenced to qisas (retribution) in the town of Al-Ahsa, could be paralyzed from the waist down unless he pays one million Saudi riyals --US$ 270,000 -- in compensation to the victim.

Khawahir has spent the last 10 years in prison. He had allegedly stabbed his friend in the back, rendering him paralyzed from the waist down in or around 2003. Khawahir was only 14 years' old at the time.

A similar sentence of paralysis imposed in 2010 is not known to have been carried out. Notably, Saudi Arabia regularly sentences people to various forms of corporal punishment. Flogging is mandatory in the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom for a number of offenses and can also be imposed at the discretion of judges as an alternative or in addition to other punishments.

Also, punishment by amputation is enforced in Saudi Arabia for several offenses like "theft" and "highway robbery." In cases of qisas or retribution, other sentences passed have included eye-gouging, tooth extraction, and death in cases of murder. In such cases, the victim can demand the punishment be carried out, request financial compensation or grant a conditional or unconditional pardon.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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