Amnesty slams Saudi 'paralysis' sentence

DUBAI (AFP) - Amnesty International appealed on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia not to carry out a reported sentence of paralysis for a man in retribution for allegedly paralysing another man 10 years ago.

Ali al-Khawahir, 24, was reportedly sentenced to Qisas, or retribution, in the Eastern Province town of Al-Ahsa and could be paralysed from waist down if he fails to pay compensation of one million riyals (S$330,257), the rights watchdog said, citing Saudi media reports.

It said Khawahir had stabbed his friend in the back in 2003, rendering him paralysed from the waist down. He was 14 at the time. "Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture," said Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty.

"It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law," she said in a statement.

Amnesty said a similar sentence of paralysis was imposed in 2010 but that it was unknown if it had been carried out.

The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom imposes several forms of corporal punishment attributed to Islamic syariah law, ranging from flogging, to amputation and beheading.

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