The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eye-for-eye penalty

Dec. 6: A court in Saudi Arabia has ordered that an Indian’s eye be gouged out and handed to a Saudi he blinded in a scuffle over a battery charger.

Abdul Lateef Naushad, 32, from Kerala injured the Saudi in the eye after an altercation drew them into a fight in April 2002. The Saudi reportedly lost sight in that eye later.

Now, a court in Dammam has ordered that one of Naushad’s eyes be given to the Saudi as replacement for his damaged left eye. The Indian, in jail for three years, has appealed against the judgment in a higher court in Riyadh.

In Naushad’s home state of Kerala, chief minister Oommen Chandy has said he will endorse a clemency petition on behalf of Naushad’s family.

At his home in Kollam district, Naushad’s family is in tears.

Naushad, who worked in a petrol station near Dammam, has been in Saudi Arabia for seven years and was the sole breadwinner of a family comprising his parents, wife and two children. He has not seen his three-year-old daughter because he has been in jail for almost three years.

Mother Nabeeza Beevi believes her son is innocent. “He cannot inflict pain on others,” she said, adding that Naushad might have been falsely implicated.

According to the family, the Saudi man purchased a battery charger from Naushad’s shop on the day of the fight. After a while, he returned complaining that the charger was faulty and allegedly roughed up Naushad. His left eye was damaged when the Indian reacted in self-defence.

The court of appeal has directed the Saudi to consider whether Naushad could be pardoned. Naushad rang up his wife Shuhaila yesterday and said he hoped the Saudi would show mercy. However, his colleagues said the Saudi has refused to accept compensation.

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