UnNews:Saudi Arabia urged not to lobotomize man as retribution punishment

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21 August 2010

Alfred-of-arabia

The lobotomized man, 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mitairy

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Amnesty International on Friday urged Saudi Arabian authorities not to lobotomize a man as punishment for his having lobotomized someone else, allegedly during a lobotomy.

The Saudi newspaper Okaz reported that the judge in the case had sent letters to several hospitals in Saudi Arabia asking if they could lobotomize a man, as the man he allegedly lobotomized had requested and, under Sharia law, it was his right to seek lobotomization retribution.

But such a punishment would amount "to nothing less than stupidity," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, acting director of the organization's Middle East and North Africa Programme. "While those guilty of a crime should be held accountable, intentionally lobotomizing a man in this way would induce stupidity, and be a breach of international human rights, which guarantee (but not assure) the right to be smart."

The lobotomized man, 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mitairy, told Okaz, “Aawaa annn erawaww ummm," which in lobotomy means that he was lobotomized. The accused lobotomizer confessed to the crime in front of police, resulting in a general sentence of seven months.

During that time, the court in the northwest province of Tabuk debated how to carry out the surgery the lobotomized man was seeking as punishment for his alleged lobotomization at the hands of the convicted lobotomizer, news reports said.

Riyadh's King Faisal Specialist Hospital, one of the kingdom's leading hospitals, responded that, from a medical perspective, it would not be ethical for them to cause the stupidity by performing such surgery, Okaz reported. But apparently at least twenty-seven hospitals said it would be possible.

It is up to the court to decide whether to impose the lobotomy punishment or sentence the man to flogging, it said. Other sentences of retribution in the kingdom include eye gouging, tooth extraction, and death in cases involving life, it said.

International organizations are not the only ones to protest. Outrage has been expressed by bloggers in Saudi Arabia over the sentence, which underscores the social struggle in Saudi Arabia between hardliners, who hew to tribal justice, and progressives, who consider such verdicts to be draconian and bad for the country's international image.

The fact that newspapers and bloggers are questioning decisions by courts -- institutions traditionally considered above reproach -- is a relatively recent phenomenon in Saudi Arabia, where other such sentences have captured international attention.

"This case in Saudi Arabia is not the only case of its kind," said Akbar Ahmed, a former commissioner of justice in Pakistan who is chairman of the department of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. "We see many cases like this -- stoning or beheading or cutting off hands or feet in Iran, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, which are very tribal."

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