RIYADH, Dec 8, 2007 (AFP) – An appeal hearing was set to take place on Saturday in the case of a Sri Lankan housemaid condemned to death in Saudi Arabia, the Arab News reported. A three-judge panel will hear the appeal of Rizana Nafeek, who was convicted of strangling to death her employer’s four-month old baby in 2005, the English language daily reported.

“There is every possibility of Rizana being acquitted and for her to be free from this case once and for all,” Sri Lanka’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Hussain Bhaila, told the paper.

Another Sri Lankan housemaid, Anista Marie, was rescued from her abusive Saudi employers and will receive a 5,000 dollar payout and a ticket home after going public with allegations of ill-treatment, a Sri Lankan diplomat in the ultra-conservative kingdom told AFP in September.

Around 550,000 Sri Lankans live and work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, many of them as domestic helpers or drivers. They are a key source of foreign currency for Sri Lanka. .

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