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High emotions as paralysis case Saudi released

Reformed Ali deplores the incident, pledges to continue studies

Gulf News

Manama: Ali Al Khawaher’s journey from misery to joy culminated when he rushed into the arms of his elated mother eagerly waiting for him at their modest home.

Tears of joy and the unusually long and tight hug between the mother and her son in the Saudi town of Mansoura reflected the uncertainty of the ten years Ali spent behind bars after he stabbed his close friend Mohammad Al Hazeem in an intense argument and caused his paralysis.

The case gained an international status following the publication of reports that the court sentenced Ali to be paralysed in a tooth-for-tooth ruling. However, Saudi Arabia dismissed the reports, saying the reports were not true and that Ali could not be released until the victim’s family pardoned him.

The nightmarish journey had been difficult for Ali and his friend Mohammad who has been chair-bound since the incident in which he lost the use of his legs and other parts of his body.

Under the court verdict based on Saudi Arabia’s laws, Ali could not be released from prison until he paid Mohammad and his family blood money, 1 million riyals in this case.

Both Ali’s family, with a limited income, could not gather the money and he was forced to remain behind bars in Ihsa in the eastern part of the country.

For the two families, it was a terrible tragedy.

Ali could not leave the prison and he had no open options while Mohammad was bound to a wheel chair with no prospects for a job or a marriage.

Attempts by neighbours to reconcile the two families failed for years until the efforts of Ihsa Governor Prince Bader Bin Mohammad Bin Jalawi, senior officials and leaders in the business community succeeded in raising the required funds and helping Ali out of jail.

“When our mother heard that Ali was finally coming home, she started crying and praying for all those who helped the family,” her relatives told Saudi daily Al Sharq. “She just sat there for hours, tears rolling down her cheeks and praying. When Ali arrived, they both cried so much that the people around them had their eyes filled with tears. It was a very emotional moment. We are truly and forever grateful to all the people who made this reunion possible,” the daily reported on Friday.

Ali, 26, told the daily that he was elated to be home after 10 years.

“It has been a terrible ordeal. All my life was spent behind bars, and the only thing that kept me going was the prayers and patience,” he said. “I never wanted to cause pain to my friend and I do pray all the time that he gets cured. I deeply regret what happened. We all need to be patient. Whenever she visited me in prison, my mother told me to be patient and to draw on the lesson that I had been given,” he said.

While in prison, Ali resumed his middle school studies, graduated with a high school diploma and he is now a sophomore at a university in Ihsa seeking a degree in sociology.

“I have learned that freedom is extremely valuable,” he said as he received well wishers extending their congratulations on his release.