Saudi Arabia Urged Not to Paralyze Man as Punishment
Saudi media reports indicate that authorities have contacted several hospitals to ask if they would be able to sever the man's spinal cord. One of the hospitals has indicated it is able to perform the operation.
The authorities are seeking the punishment at the request of the man's victim in the fight. The victim, Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, is able to make a request under sharia law, since he himself was left paralyzed by the fight.
Such cases of qisas (retribution) are not unusual in Saudi Arabia. Other sentences that have been passed include gouging a convict's eyes, extracting their teeth and even death sentences as punishment for murder.
To sever the man's spine "amounts to nothing less than torture," Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's acting director of the Middle East and North Africa Program, said in a statement. "Intentionally paralyzing a man in this way would constitute torture, and be a breach of its international human rights obligations."
The man, whose name has not been public, reportedly stabbed his victim in the back with a large knife in a fight more than two years ago. The injuries he inflicted paralyzed his victim, who later lost a foot as well, BBC News reported.
The retribution punishment proposed would violate the UN Convention against Torture, to which Saudi Arabia is a party, as well as the UN's Principles of Medical Ethics, Amnesty said.
"Under international human rights law, the use of this sentence would constitute a violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," the human rights group said.
Though few details of the case are known publicly, it appears that the court has not decided if it will seek to paralyze the man. Instead, it may impose a sentence of flogging, financial compensation or imprisonment.
Still, the victim's family is pushing for a harsher sentence.
"We are asking for our legal right under Islamic law," his brother Khaled said, according to Sky News. "There is no better word than God's word -- an eye for an eye."