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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Eye for an eye justice
Grand Mosque in Mecca
Human rights groups condemn Saudi punishments
By Frank Gardner in Cairo

An eye for an eye - that is the way Saudi justice has always been. But this time it has been taken literally.

The Saudi authorities have reportedly removed the eye of an Egyptian as punishment for his attack on another Egyptian six years ago.

The Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Monday that Abdel Moti Mohammed had his eye surgically removed in a hospital after being sentenced by an Islamic court in Medina.

He was found guilty of throwing acid in the face of another Egyptian, Shahata Mahmoud, permanently disfiguring him.

They were said to be having an argument over money.

Operations

Mahmoud's face was allegedly so badly damaged that it remained disfigured after 30 surgical operations.

He said it was enough to stop him returning to Egypt for fear of his family's reaction.

Under Saudi law the victim can pardon his attacker, but in this case he chose not to, despite being reportedly offered over $200,000 to drop the punishment.

The victim was quoted as saying that the removal of Mr Mohammed's eye would stop his family in Egypt from taking revenge on his attacker's relatives.

Punishments

The Saudi authorities apply strict corporal punishments for thieves, adulterers and anyone caught drinking alcohol. They also execute convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and drug smugglers.

The London-based human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has sharply criticised the Saudi justice system. But the Saudi Government has defended its record, saying that no-one has the right to criticise its application of Islamic law.

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See also:

22 Apr 00 | Middle East
Saudi boys risk flogging
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Saudi rough justice
28 Mar 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia 'buys silence' on abuse
31 Mar 00 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia denies rights abuses
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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