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Saudi government denies reports of paralysis punishment sentence

By Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The purported sentence first surfaced in local media last month
  • Now, the Saudi government says reports of a paralysis sentence are "untrue"
  • The judge in the case "dismissed requests for such punishment" a Saudi ministry says
  • The case centered on a man convicted of stabbing and paralyzing another man

(CNN) -- Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Justice is denying reports that a Saudi court sentenced a man to be surgically paralyzed as punishment for having paralyzed another man, with the ministry adding that the judge in the case had "dismissed requests for such punishment."

A series of tweets issued by the Justice Ministry admonished media outlets for having published those earlier reports, calling them "untrue." The ministry also slammed human rights organizations for having condemned Saudi Arabia based on those reports.

"We hope that everyone attempts to verify the facts and be accurate," said the ministry.

News about the case first surfaced in local Saudi media last month. The Saudi Gazette, an English-language daily, reported that Ali Al-Khawahir was 14 when he stabbed and paralyzed his best friend 10 years ago.

The newspaper added that Al-Khawahir, who has been in prison ever since, had been sentenced to be surgically paralyzed if he cannot come up with one million Saudi Riyals ($266,000) in compensation to be paid to the victim.

Rights groups were quick to condemn the reported sentence, with Amnesty International calling it "outrageous," and adding that it "should on no account be carried out."

Britian's Foreign Office also issued a statement about the reported sentence, expressing "deep concern" and calling the punishment "grotesque."

This is not the first time a "paralysis as punishment" sentence has made headlines in Saudi Arabia.

In 2010, local media reported the case of a 22-year-old man who was paralyzed in a fight, saying he had subsequently requested paralysis as punishment for the man he'd fought with.

After the initial reports, the Saudi Ministry of Justice denied that paralysis had ever been considered as punishment in that case.

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