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Saudi court backing away from paralysis punishment

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia –A Saudi court is trying to persuade a man paralyzed in a fight to drop his demand to inflict a similar injury on his attacker by having his spinal cord surgically damaged, a judiciary spokesman said Monday.

The court has determined that such a procedure could result in the attacker’s death and is appealing to the victim to accept financial compensation instead, the spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity under judiciary rules.

Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, 22, was left paralyzed and subsequently lost a foot after a fight more than two years ago in which a man attacked him with a cleaver. He asked a judge in northwestern Tabuk province to impose an equivalent punishment on his attacker under Islamic law.

After consulting with Saudi hospitals, the judge ruled that such a procedure could be fatal and that blood money would be a fair deal.

The victim’s brother, Khaled al-Mutairi, told The Associated Press by telephone that he had not received such a proposal from the court and could not comment on what decision the family might take.

Rights group Amnesty International has urged Saudi authorities not to deliberately paralyze the attacker, saying that doing so would constitute torture.

Saudi Arabia enforces strict Islamic law and occasionally doles out punishments based on the ancient legal code of an eye-for-an-eye.

According to Amnesty, convicts have had teeth pulled by dentists in retribution for knocking people’s teeth out in fights and others have been sentenced to be blinded after causing people to go blind.

By Abdullah Al-Shihri, Associated Press Writer

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