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sau_fresh_hopesFrom left : Al-Sheikh Imran Jamaldeen,Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Kingsley Ranawake, Secretary Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry Nissanka N Wijeratne and Muslim Theologians Council Secretary General Al-Sheikh M.S.M. Thassim are seen after the press briefing held at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh.
Photo credit: Arab News

By MD RASOOLDEEN | ARAB NEWS

Nov 2011

A Sri Lankan delegation visiting Dawadmi, 380 km from the capital, was given a warm welcome by the Otaibi tribe leader Mohamed Faihan Shoraim Al-Otaibi.

The high-powered delegation led by Sri Lanka’s Western Province Gov. Alavi Mowlana met the tribal leaders of the Otaibi family on Thursday to seek pardon for Rizana Nafeek.

Nafeek was convicted of murdering a four-month-old infant in Dawadmi on May 2005. The warm welcome accorded to the visiting panel raised fresh hopes for the release of death row housemaid Nafeek.

Other members of the visiting team included Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry Secretary Nissanka N. Wijeratne, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Chairman Kingsley Ranawake, External Affairs Ministry Additional Secretary Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, Mohammed Sheriff Mohammed Thowfeek, a Sri Lankan member of Parliament who works in Nafeek’s constituency, Abdul Hameed Mohammed Azwer, senior legislator, Muslim Theologians Council Secretary-General  M.S.M. Thassim and  Imran Jamaldeen and  M.B.M. Zarook.

According to legal experts, Nafeek can only be saved if she is pardoned by the victim’s family. The pardon can be offered with or without a request for blood money.

“We are leaving the shores of the Kingdom with an ardent hope of getting this convicted maid released on humanitarian grounds,”  Thassim told Arab News on Friday on the eve of his departure.

“We were given a warm welcome by the members of the Otaibi family in Dawadmi under the leadership of Faihan, who said he would do all that is possible under Islamic law to release the maid who was a victim of circumstances,” Thassim noted.

Speaking on the occasion, Jamaldeen said the Sri Lankan government respects the laws of the host country. “We only seek pardon from the parents of the deceased infant according to Islamic Shariah.”

He added that the visit opened a new chapter in the relations between the Otaibi family and the government of Sri Lanka which would eventually lead to a happy ending.

Gov. Mowlana told Arab News that he was happy that the visit opened a dialogue between the two parties. He said he was positive that the parents of the deceased child would graciously pardon the maid on sympathetic grounds.

The governor thanked the Saudi government and its embassy in Colombo for paving the way for a smooth dialogue between the parties.

The delegation also met Mirdath Fahad Al-Otaibi, grandfather of the deceased infant.  Mirdath told the visiting team that he would negotiate for a pardon from his daughter and son-in-law Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi to release the maid from death row.

Nafeek was sentenced to death by a three-member bench at Dawadmi High Court for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers at home. The accused maintained that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding, and that she tried to seek help.

In August this year, the Royal Court handled Nafeek’s case to reach an amicable settlement with the Saudi parents of the victim.

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Rizana Nafeek is a young Sri Lankan immigrant maid who has been sentenced to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

She was left in charge of a baby, who choked to death, and Rizana was accused of murder.

Rizana was 17 at the time, couldn't speak the language & had an unfair trial...

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