Outrage Over Saudi Court's Decision to Have Man Surgically Paralyzed for Causing His Friend to Become Paralyzed

A man who has spent the past ten years in prison for stabbing his friend in the back and paralyzing him will be surgically paralyzed himself in accordance with a ruling reportedly handed down by a Saudi Arabian court.

Ali al-Khawaher was 14 years old when he stabbed his friend in the heat of a dispute and inadvertently severed his spine causing him to become paralyzed. He has been behind bars ever since.

Both the Saudi Gazette and al-Hayat, the Arab diaspora's "paper of record," have reported that a local court recently sentenced al-Khawaher to be surgically paralyzed — an "eye-for-an-eye" punishment in line with the Middle Eastern country's adherence to Islamic sharia law.

According to Al-Khawaher's mother, the victim's family said they would be willing to pardon her son in exchange for 1 million Saudi riyals (~$266,000), but "we don't have even a tenth of this sum."

She told al-Hayat that "an unnamed philanthropist" was in the process of trying to obtain the necessary blood money, but was unsure it could be raised in time.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, released a statement condemning the punishment as torture.

"That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offenses, as happens in Saudi Arabia," Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Ann Harrison said in the statement.

She called on Saudi Arabian authorities to overturn this ruling and others like it and "start respecting their international legal obligations."

[photo via AP]