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Saudi Arabia denies reports of paralysis sentence

April 09, 2013|By Emily Alpert

Saudi Arabia denied reports that a young man had been sentenced to paralysis, a punishment that human rights groups had excoriated as a form of torture.

“This is untrue,” the Justice Ministry said Monday on its Twitter account, according to a translation by blogger Ahmed Omran. The judge “dismissed the request of such punishment.”

The Saudi Gazette reported last month that if Ali Khawahir could not pay roughly $270,000 to the friend he allegedly stabbed and paralyzed a decade ago, he in turn would be paralyzed. His mother told another local newspaper that the family didn’t have the money, according to Reuters news service.

The news set off an uproar among rights activists and triggered unusually sharp words from the British Foreign Office, which called the reported penalty “grotesque.”

Amnesty International issued a statement calling the reported punishment “utterly shocking” and against international law. The rights group has repeatedly criticized Saudi Arabia for imposing floggings, amputations and other kinds of corporal punishment.

On its Twitter feed, the Justice Ministry criticized human rights activists and media outlets for criticizing the country based on the local reports. The Saudi Gazette could not immediately be reached for comment.

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