Monday, October 19, 2009

I confessed under duress: Lankan maid

Mohammad Rasooldeen I Arab News

RIYADH: Rizana Nafeek, the Sri Lankan maid, who has been in jail for the past four years for allegedly killing a Saudi infant in 2005, told a court on Sunday that her first confession was made under duress and as a result of a physical assault.

Nafeek made this statement before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Abdullah Al-Rosaimi at a court in Dawadmi. Her statement in court was translated by Abdul Kareem, an Indian electrician who acted as her interpreter on Sunday.

Nafeek told the court that she was assaulted and was forced to confess since she feared for her life. Khateb Al-Shammary, Nafeek’s lawyer, said that the bench would forward the results of its deliberations to the high court in Riyadh which would in turn decide the next course of action.

For Sunday’s hearing, the police investigating officer, the local religious police and Nafeek were summoned for questioning. The father of the deceased infant, Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi, who has regularly appeared, was not summoned to court on Sunday. Having recorded Nafeek’s statement, the judge also took a statement from police investigating officer who was present in court.

On recording the statement from the police officer, the judge ordered the police to produce two witnesses to vouch at the next hearing for the honesty and integrity of the officer.

Sarath Kumara, first secretary of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, and Abdul Lateef Mohammed Jabir, mission’s coordinator were present at the court to look after the interests of the accused.

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