Unless he can quickly raise $270,000, a Saudi man will soon face court-ordered surgical paralysis from the waist down, Amnesty International reports.

Justice in Saudi Arabia in the 21st Century still revolves around the principle of lex talionis, better known to Westerners as "an eye for an eye."

The case stems from 2003, when, Ali al-Khawahir, then 14, stabbed a friend in the back. The crime caused al-Khawahir's friend to be paralyzed from the waist down.

Finding him guilty in the assault, the court in the town of Al-Ahsa sentenced al-Khawahir to "qisas" - retribution - or pay the victims's family one million Saudi riyals in "blood money."

"We don't have even a tenth of this sum," said al-Khawahir's mother, according to The Guardian.

Her son, now 24, has already spent the last 10 years in prison for the crime, according to reports. It is not clear why he is being sentenced to paralysis now.

The Saudis have a history of corporal punishment. According to Amnesty International, another man was sentenced to paralysis in 2010. It is not known if the punishment was carried out.

If al-Khawahir is paralyzed, it would contravene the UN Convention against Torture to which Saudi Arabia is a state party, an Amnesty spokesman said.

According to the human rights organization, flogging is mandatory in the desert kingdom for a number of offenses and can also be imposed at the discretion of judges.

Amputation of the right hand is meted out for a conviction of theft. Saudi courts can also order the amputation of a right hand and left foot in instances of highway robbery.

Other retribution sentences have included eye-gouging, tooth extraction and death.

"Paralyzing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture," said Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

"That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offenses, as happens in Saudi Arabia."

"It is time the authorities in Saudi Arabia start respecting their international legal obligations and remove these terrible punishments from the law."

Contact Sam Wood at samwood@phillynews.com, @samwoodiii or 215-854-2796