Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saudi Justice: Spine for a Spine

We first noted this unique case last week and now a Saudi court has ruled a man's spinal cord can be severed as punishment for his cleaver attack on another man.
A Saudi Arabian court has ruled that a convicted man's spinal cord should be severed so he is paralyzed as part of the kingdom's Islamic-law-oriented retribution for similar injuries he is said to have inflicted upon another man in a fight.

The ruling has prompted an outcry from human rights groups and an intervention from Saudi officials who say they are trying to persuade the victim to accept monetary compensation for his injuries instead of the punishment against the criminal.

According to reports from Saudi Arabia, the court in Tabuk, on the northwest coast of the kingdom, has approached a number of hospitals about the possibility of cutting the convicted man's spinal cord.

So far at least two hospitals have refused to carry out the procedure, citing ethical concerns.

In the Saudi justice system, the court establishes guilt and the family of the victim or the victim himself has the option of inflicting the same injury upon the guilty party, seeking blood money or offering a pardon.

"The sentence of 'an eye for an eye' has always been in conflict with medical ethics," said Christoph Wilcke, a senior researcher for Saudi Arabia at Human Rights Watch, adding, "This case is a new angle in the sense that doctors are speaking out."

Amnesty International urged Saudi authorities not to deliberately paralyze the man.

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