Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice has officially denied press reports claiming that a judge sentenced a young Saudi man to be surgically paralyzed.
The accused was allegedly given a retributive sentence in the Eastern Province town of Al-Ahsa for stabbing another man and paralyzing him from the waist down, provoking an international outcry.
Local press reports garnered a significant international response, and the story was widely reported in the Western and global media, including the BBC and CNN.
Governments, including those of the US and UK, and human rights campaigners also expressed their concern. Amnesty International appealed to the Saudi government not to carry out the sentence.
On its official Twitter feed on Monday, the Ministry of Justice asserted it would “like to announce that this is utterly incorrect, and in fact the judicial ruling was contrary to that. The judge had shied away from demanding this punishment.”
A local Saudi newspaper previously reported that Ali Al-Khawahir, who was convicted 10 years ago of stabbing his best friend (Al-Khawahir was 14 at the time), would be paralyzed if he could not pay his victim the SAR 1 million (USD 270,000) in compensation, which he had been ordered to pay by the court. Another Saudi newspaper quoted Khawahir’s mother as saying that “we don’t have even a tenth of this sum.”
Following its official denial, the Saudi Ministry of Justice went on to call upon media outlets and groups that lobby for human rights to “verify” their information.
The ministry declined to disclose any further details of Khawahir’s sentence.