RIYADH, July 28, 2007 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan minister on Saturday wrapped up a mission to Saudi Arabia aimed at securing clemency for a teenage maid condemned to death, saying he was confident the visit would “bear fruit.” They are a key source of foreign currency for Sri Lanka.
A total of 110 people have been executed in the kingdom so far this year.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila arrived in Saudi Arabia on July 20 with the parents of 19-year-old Rizana Nafeek, who was convicted of strangling her employer’s baby in 2005.
“We have done what is possible and I’m fairly confident that this should bear fruit,” Bhaila told AFP by telephone as he prepared to return to Sri Lanka.
Bhaila said leaders of the murdered baby’s tribe with whom he met earlier had promised to approach the baby’s parents to try to secure a pardon.
Under the strict version of Islamic sharia law applied in Saudi Arabia, a death sentence for premeditated murder can be quashed only through a pardon from the victim’s family on the basis of “diya”, or blood money, compensation.
Bhaila also said he held talks with senior religious figures who “expressed sympathy” with Nafeek’s case.
Nafeek’s lawyers were still waiting for c