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Saudi Arabia denies man was sentenced to paralysis

Reports about the cruel and unusual sentence sparked condemnation – but now Saudi authorities say the sentence was never handed down.

The Riyadh general court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (File photo)
The Riyadh general court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (File photo)
Image: AP Photo

SAUDI ARABIA HAS denied reports that a court in the kingdom has ordered a punishment of paralysis for a man who committed a crime that paralysed another man.

The reports about the sentence, which sparked condemnation after Amnesty International urged the Saudi authorities to annul it, were “false,” a justice ministry spokesman said.

The ministry also used its Twitter account to refute the reports about the sentence, which Britain’s Foreign Office described as “grotesque”.

“In response to reports by some media about a court sentence of paralysis for a man, the ministry clarifies that such a claim is completely false,” it said.

The ministry said that, to the contrary, “the judge decided to dismiss demands for such a sentence”.

It urged media outlets and groups that “claim to lobby for rights,” in a clear indication to Amnesty, to “verify” information.

Amnesty said last week that Ali al-Khawahir, 24, was reportedly sentenced to Qisas, or retribution, and could be paralysed from the waist down if he fails to pay compensation of one million riyals (€204,462).

The London-based human rights watchdog said Khawahir had stabbed a friend of his in the back in 2003, leaving him paralysed. The convict was 14 years old at the time.

It said a similar sentence of paralysis was given in Saudi Arabia in 2010, but that it was unknown whether it had been carried out.

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

- © AFP, 2013

Read: Arab world’s richest man calls for parliamentary elections in Saudi Arabia >

Read: Saudi king says 30 women can now sit on top advisory council for first time >

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