Saudi Arabia denies ‘paralysis sentence’

April 12, 2013




Mohammad with his parents – Al Watan

Saudi Arabia’s justice ministry has denied reports that a local court had sentenced a Saudi man to paralysis as punishment for paralysing another man.

The judge overseeing the case had ruled out such a sentence when it was brought before him, the ministry said.

“The claims are totally baseless and the court judge never considered the paralysis option,” the ministry said on its Twitter account on Monday. “We do hope that everyone verifies the facts because fabricated news undermine the credibility of those who disseminate them. We deplore that those behind the allegations claim they are supporting human rights whereas a fundamental premise in human rights activism is to check the facts thoroughly,” the ministry said.

Reports emerged last week that a court in Saudi Arabia had sentenced Ali Al Khawahir, 24, to beparalyzed from the waist down if he could not pay Mohammad Al Hazim, his victim, SR 1 million in “blood money” compensation.

Ali, who has been in prison for 10 years, was 14 when he stabbed Mohammad, 16 at the time, in the neck in the Eastern Province town of Al Ahsa.

According to the ruling by a local court, he cannot be released unless he pays the compensation money.

In an interview with a  Saudi daily two years ago, wheel chair-bound Mohammad said that he and Ali were close neighbours and friends who often spent time together.

He said that that one day they had an argument during which Ali took out a knife and stabbed him in the neck as he was going to school.

“Ali fled the scene and I was taken to King Fahad Hospital in Al Hafoof where I kept under observation for seven months,” Mohammad told Al Watan daily. “According to the medical report, I had permanent disabilities. I am paralyzed in the lower limbs, I have a lifelong loss of control over urine and excrement and I cannot have sex,” he said.

Ali, confined to a cell in prison for ten years, said that he had been regretting the “terribly dramatic incident.”

“Mohammad and I were more than friends,” he told the daily over the phone. “Unfortunately, it took just one moment of foolishness. I did not know that the stabbing would results in the dramas that we are sadly living today. I have tried often times to convince Mohammad to pardon me, but he invariably refused and deep inside I do not blame him. What aggravates my woes is that I am bound to remain in prison all my life. My family is totally unable to raise the required blood money. I pray God all the time for mercy and forgiveness. I have spent so many years here during which my father died and I could not be at his funeral,” he said.

The young men’s dramas were passionately lived by their mothers.

“God, please return my son to me, like You reunited Joseph with his father Jacob,” Ali’s mother said, referring to the two prophets in the Holy Book. She heaved a deep sigh as she finished praying and sat to talk with Al Watan.

The mother whose tears were running on her face during the conversation said that her family was “simply unable to pay the SR 1 million” that would make her neighbours forgive her son and allow him to come home.

“So many happy occasions have passed, but in my family, they were all sad days,” she said. “We cannot even wear new clothes to celebrate anything as long as Ali is in jail,” she said. The old woman said that she had seen her son only a few times since he was confined to the jail cell.

A few metres away, Mohammad’s mother was also lamenting her son’s tragic life. She could not bear the sight of the man in his early 20s confined to a wheel chair.

“My heart melts every time I look at my youthful son unable to move,” she said. “I had dreams of seeing him get married and have children, but he is now in a wheel chair.”

She ruled out any talk about forgiving Ali and allowing him to be reunited with his old mother.

“What about me and my son? Who will take care of us? I felt torn to pieces every morning when I see him in this state. He was just 16 when he was paralysed.”

Reference to Ali’s mother as a frail and desperate old woman crying over her jailed son triggered her emotions about her own condition.

“Can’t you see how my frail son is bound to a chair? He is paralysed and he feels that he is half a human being,” she said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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