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* Saudi Arabia flays world bodies for denouncing Sri Lankan housemaid's execution
Sun, Jan 13, 2013, 10:30 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 13, Colombo: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today slammed the world organizations which denounced the beheading of a Sri Lankan housemaid last week for the death of an infant under her care.

Saudi authorities last Wednesday beheaded the 24-year-old Sri Lankan domestic worker, Rizana Nafeek , who was found guilty of smothering a four-month old son of her employer while bottle feeding the baby on May 2005.

A sharia court in Dawadmi sentenced Nafeek, who was 17 at the time, to death in June 2007and the supreme Court upheld the sentence in 2010.

Saudi government in a statement today said it regrets the statements issued by a number of foreign agencies and organizations including the UN, British government, European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and wishes to clarify the decision to execute as the statements drew on false information about the case and issued without full knowledge of the circumstances of the case itself.

The Kingdom said the Sri Lankan domestic worker premeditatedly strangled to death the four-month child one week after her arrival and it carried out the court ruling.

The Saudi government disputed that Nafeek was a minor at the time of the crime as her official passport showed she was over 21 at the time.

"As it is universally recognized, the passport is an official document issued by her Government. Moreover, the legal regulations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia do not allow the recruitment of minors," the statement said.

The housemaid, who was born on February 4, 1988, got her passport altered to show an older date of birth to gain employment in the Kingdom. The Sri Lankan government prosecuted the employment agency which falsified her passport to list her as 23 years old and sent her to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government denied that she had no legal access to defend her case and said that she was given all rights to have a legal defense under the supervision of Sri Lankan Embassy.

"Moreover, the case circumstances and procedures taken since the start of the case were reported to the officials of her country, who visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including the Attorney General of Sri Lanka," the statement said.

The Kingdom said it had made "vigorous efforts at the highest levels" to persuade the child's parents to pardon Nafeek or accept blood money and waive their personal right. However, the parents have insisted on carrying out the ruling, the statement noted.

The statement said the Sri Lankan government appreciated the Saudi government's efforts to obtain a pardon for Nafeek.

The Kingdom emphasized that it respects the "sovereignty of the judiciary and all laws and regulations as well as its protection of the rights of all citizens and expatriates on its soil," and "categorically rejects any interference in its affairs or in the provisions of its judiciary under any justifications."

The execution has soured the diplomatic relations between the two countries and Sri Lanka recalled its Ambassador in Riyadh as a mark of protest.



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