Court rejects plea to paralyse defendant

A Saudi court rejected a plea to paralyse a defendant in a tit-for-tat punishment after he was convicted of crippling another Saudi by using an axe during a fight, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The appeal court supported an earlier sentence by another court in the northern town of Tabuk ordering the defendant to pay diya (blood money) to the victim and turning down a lawyer’s request to cripple the defendant in a surgical operation, 'Alsaudeh' said.

The paper said the victim had been completely paralysed since he was axed in his back during a fight with the defendant two years ago. The victim, Abdul Aziz Al Mutairi, had demanded the same punishment of the defendant through an operation in his spinal cord. But the court of first instance rejected that demand and its sentence for bloody money was supported by an appeal court this week.

Several human rights groups and other organizations in the Gulf kingdom have sought to dissuade the 22-year-old victim from pressing his demands for such a punishment but he has refused to budge. The case triggered furor last year when a judge sent letters to some hospitals asking if an operation in the spinal cord to cripple the defendant is feasible from the medical point of view.

But the judge later defended his act as a mere response to the victim’s wish and that he had no intention to issue such a verdict.

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