Saudi likely to free Rizana

Saudi Arabia is likely to free Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Sri Lanka has said.

Saudi Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Abdul Aziz Al-Jammaz, had informed this to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem today.

A spokesman for the Minister told the Colombo Gazette that the Saudi Ambassador had told Minister Hakeem that the Saudi government was considering an appeal for clemency for Rizana made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“The Saudi Ambassador said that his government may free Rizana and send her back to Sri Lanka,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman also quoted the Saudi Ambassador as saying that the Saudi King has asked the Riyadh Governor to negotiate with the family of the child who died while in the care of the Sri Lankan maid.

Rizana Nafeek was arrested in May 2005 on charges of murdering an infant in her care. She was 17 years old at the time. On 16 June 2007, she was sentenced to death by a court in Dawadmi, a town west of the capital Riyadh.

The sentence was subsequently upheld by the Court of Cassation and sent for ratification by the Supreme Judicial Council. However, the Council sent it back to the lower court for further clarification. The case then went back and forth between the courts until on or around 25 October 2010, when the Supreme Court in Riyadh upheld the death sentence.

By Easwaran Rutnam