Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rizana Nafeek’s case to be reviewed again

RIYADH: The case of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek found guilty of killing a Saudi infant in May 2005, has taken a new turn with the Court in Dawadmi where Ms. Nafeek was initially tried, once again referring the case to Riyadh’s Supreme Judicial Council, Arab News reported yesterday.
The referral is accompanied by a new statement from the police who took down her alleged confession, Sri Lanka embassy officials said on Wednesday but no details about the new statement were available.
During the past year, the case had been moved from one court to another after it was first heard in the Riyadh High Court in March last year.
In November the High Court announced that the Lankan translator -- a key witness to what happened on the day Ms. Nafeek is alleged to have made her confession -- had left Saudi Arabia and would be unavailable for testimony.
While the infant’s parents are accusing Ms. Nafeek of killing the baby, she claims the infant choked while being bottle-fed and she is appealing against the death sentence.
She was spared execution last year on the last day of the deadline for appeal when she was assigned a lawyer who was retained with the help of the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Lankan community in Saudi Arabia.
The defence lawyer Khateb Al-Shammary expressed concern that Ms. Nafeek had been in prison for five years while the system sought to dispense justice and cited several reasons why the maid should not be executed.
Ms. Nafeek maintained her confession was invalid because it was made under duress and with inadequate translation.
Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker who visited Ms. Nafeek last week told Arab News that the maid spent her time embroidering pillow covers.
Ms. Nafeek’s family has requested the Sri Lankan government to assign a negotiator to convince the deceased baby’s family to forgive Nafeek during Ramadan.

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