Surgical Paralysis Ordered in Saudi Arabia as Punishment for Teenage Assault

Spine-for-a-spine punishment has mother 'frightened to death.'

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Ali Al-Khawahir, 24, is awaiting court-ordered surgical paralysis in Saudi Arabia for an assault he committed when he was 14 years old, according to news reports.

Al-Khawahir has reportedly spent 10 years in prison since stabbing a friend in the spine during a fight. The wound left his friend paralyzed. The Saudi legal system allows eye-for-an-eye punishments.

The convicted man's mother told Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat that the family is seeking help raising $270,000 in "blood money," which in Saudi Arabia can be requested by a crime's victim – or victim's family in cases of murder – in exchange for punishment.

[READ: Is the United States the Next Saudi Arabia?]

"We don't have even a tenth of this sum," she said, according to a translation by The Guardian.

"Ten years have passed with hundreds of sleepless nights," his mother told Al-Hayat, according to the English-language Saudi Gazette. "My hair has become grey at a young age because of my son's problem. I have been frightened to death whenever I think about my son's fate and that he will have to be paralyzed."

Amnesty International condemned the sentence as "outrageous" in a statement released this week. "Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture," said Ann Harrison, the organization's Middle East and North Africa deputy director. "That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking."

[READ: Saudi Police Lift Ban on Women Riding Bikes]

Tooth extractions, said Amnesty, have also been ordered in Saudi Arabia.

Israeli news website Ynet reports that 13 years ago a Saudi hospital gouged out an Egyptian man's eye as punishment for an acid attack that injured another man. A similar sentence for an Indian man six years later was set aside after international outrage.

If victims do not seek "blood money" or perpetrators cannot afford to pay the amount requested, the sentence is carried out.

Saudi Arabia's legal system is a perpetual object of scorn. In March, seven men were executed for committing jewelry heists and armed robberies. One of the men said he was 15 at the time he was arrested, claimed he was tortured into confessing and said the defendants did not have legal representation during court proceedings.

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