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Paralyzing punishment evokes shock, pleas

| Thursday, April 4, 2013, 9:27 p.m.

Alarmed by reports that Saudi Arabia will paralyze a man as punishment for allegedly stabbing a friend who ended up paralyzed, Britain urged the kingdom Thursday to abandon the “grotesque punishment.”

The Saudi Gazette reported last week that Ali Khawahir was sentenced to be paralyzed if he could not pay 1 million riyals — roughly $270,000 — to the friend he allegedly stabbed a decade ago. Khawahir was reportedly 14 years old when he was first jailed.

“But we don't have even a tenth of this sum,” Al-Khawahir's 60-year-old mother told the newspaper Al Hayat.

The Arabic-language al-Hayat daily said an unnamed philanthropist was trying to raise funds to pay the blood money, but it was not clear how much time remained before Khawahir's sentence was to be carried out.

Amnesty International called the eye-for-an-eye punishment “utterly shocking” and a violation of international law. “Paralyzing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture,” its Middle East and North Africa deputy director Ann Harrison said in a statement this week.

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