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Sri Lanka condemned maid's 'translator' qualifications queried
01 Sep, 2008 07:18:53
Sep 01, 2008 (LBO) - The man who acted as translator for a condemned Sri Lankan teenaged girl in a Saudi court was not a native Tamil speaker, her lawyer told court in an appeal hearing, a media report said.
Arabnews said Kateb Al-Shammary, representing Rizana Nafeek condemned to death when a baby in her care died while being bottle fed, said the interpreter that translated her documents to Arabic was originally from India's Karnataka state where Kannada is spoken.

"I come to courts on request for translation purposes and I am paid SR100 (Saudi Riyal) per case," Arabnews quoted the translator, Karim Mawiya Cader Mohammed, as saying.

He was quoted as saying that he knows Tamil which is widely spoken in India’s Tamil Nadu state and in Sri Lanka.

The language used by Tamils of recent Indian origin in central Sri Lanka is similar to the Tamil in Tamil Nadu.

Rizana, is a Muslim from Eastern Sri Lanka, whose community speaks a distinct dialect of Tamil. In eastern Sri Lanka native ethnic Tamils also speak a different dialect of Tamil from those in central Sri Lanka.

Rizana was originally condemned by a court in Dawadmi in on the basis of a so-called 'confession' which was alleged to have been signed by her.

The court had told the attorney that it would summon two witnesses to the next hearing to vouch for the translator’s honesty, integrity and ability to translate from Tamil, Arabnews said.

The next hearing had been fixed for November 05 by a three-member bench, led by chief justice Sheikh Abdullah Al-Rosaimi, Arabnews said.

She had been 17 at the time she went to work as a house maid in Saudi Arabia on documents which had been forged by an 'employment agency' which said she was 23 years old. She was condemned last June.

Her birth certificate had stated that she was born on February 04, 2008.

Her lawyer told court in the appeal that Rizana was not hired as a nanny and she had no training in caring for newborn babies.

Also attending the hearing Saturday was the father of the deceased Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi, Sri Lankan Ambassador Abdul Ageed Mohamed Marleen and a team of officials from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, Arabnews said.

The family of the deceased baby had maintained that Rizana had committed pre-meditated murder.

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