Another Deadline

RIYADH, July 17, 2007 (AFP) – An appeal for a teenage Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for murdering a four-month-old baby has been launched, her lawyer said on Tuesday. Rizana Nafeek, 19, was convicted of strangling her employer’s baby in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom in February 2005 in a case that has raised international concern.

Lawyer Kateb al-Shammari told AFP he is preparing a case to submit to an appeal court which he must lodge by July 22, adding: “We will study the case from all angles so that we can prepare the appeal.”

More than three quarters of the 550,000 Sri Lankans living in the oil-rich kingdom work as domestic helpers and drivers.

Executions are usually carried out in public in Saudi Arabia, which applies a strict form of sharia, or Islamic law. Rape, murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty.

In February, the New York-based Human Rights Watch asked Saudi Arabia to stay executions after it beheaded four Sri Lankans and ordered the public display of their bodies.

The Sri Lankan government said it had made unsuccessful clemency appeals on behalf of the four men. So far this year there hav