President Mahinda Rajpaksa has made a fresh urgent appeal seeking the release of Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek who is on death row in Saudi Arabia.
The appeal comes amidst reports that the family of the Saudi child killed while in Rizana’s care have refused to pardon her.
The President’s media spokesman Mohan Samaranayake told the Colombo Gazette that the President had made the appeal today in a letter addressed to the Saudi King.
However last week the Saudi Arabian Ambassador in Sri Lanka had said that Saudi Arabia is likely to free Nafeek.
The 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.
A spokesman for the Minister had told the Colombo Gazette that the Saudi Ambassador had told Minister Hakeem that the Saudi government was considering an earlier appeal for clemency for Rizana made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
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.
Report by Easwaran Rutnam