Maid accused of smothering baby executed in Saudi Arabia

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 09, 2013 20:23 hrs

London: Saudi Arabia has executed a Sri Lankan domestic worker for the death of a baby in her care in 2005, said a foreign ministry official in Colombo Wednesday.

Rizana Nafeek had denied killing the four-month-old boy, BBC reported. Her supporters described her execution as a breach of international child rights.

The Saudi interior ministry said Nafeek was beheaded for smothering the infant after an argument with the child's mother in the town of al-Dwadmi.

Nafeek had been working in Saudi Arabia for two weeks in 2005 when the 'Utaibi family's four-month-old baby died in her care.

Nafeek retracted a confession that she said was made under duress, and said the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle. Authorities have incarcerated Nafeek in Dawadmi prison since 2005.

She had no access to legal counsel until after a court in Dawadmi sentenced her to death by beheading in 2007.

Under the system of 'qisas' (retaliation) that governs murder cases in Saudi Arabia, the baby's parents could grant Nafeek a pardon or seek blood money in compensation.

Earlier in the day, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia should halt the execution of a Sri Lankan domestic worker convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005 when she was 17.

International law prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18.

The Sri Lankan parliament observed a minute's silence Wednesday in Nafeek's honour.

President Rajapakse and the government deplored the execution "despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally", the foreign ministry said.

Nafeek's parents had repeatedly appealed to Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for pardoning her. She was convicted in 2007 for murdering four-month-old baby.

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