UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office calls on Gulf kingdom to stop plan to paralyse man
The UK has urged Saudi authorities not to follow through on a sentence to paralyse a man in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was fourteen years old.
The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has called the sentence "grotesque" and called on the Gulf kingdom to ensure the punishment is not carried out.
The UK was responding to reports published on Wednesday that said a Saudi Arabian court had delivered a verdict that a young man should be paralysed as punishment for a crime he committed 10 years ago which resulted in the victim being confined to a wheelchair.
Ali al-Khawaher, 24, was reported to have spent 10 years in jail waiting to be paralysed surgically unless his family pays one million Saudi riyals ($270,000) to the victim.
The Saudi Gazette newspaper reported last week that Khawaher had stabbed a childhood friend in the spine during a dispute a decade ago, paralysing him from the waist down.
Responding to reports, an FCO Spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that a Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a man to be paralysed in retribution for causing the paralysis of a friend when he was fourteen years old.
"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.”
Earlier this week, Amnesty International also condemned the sentence.
Saudi Arabia applies Islamic sharia law, which allows eye-for-an-eye punishment for crimes but allows victims to pardon convicts in exchange for so-called blood money.
"Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture," Ann Harrison, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Amnesty said the case demonstrated the need for Saudi Arabia to review its laws to "start respecting their international obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law".
Saudi judges have in the past ordered sharia punishments that include tooth extraction, flogging, eye gouging and - in murder cases - death.