Saudi King responds to plea for Rizana
By Leon Berenger
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has directed officials to hold talks with the household in which a Sri Lankan female domestic is alleged to have murdered a toddler in her charge as discreet diplomatic efforts were underway to secure her release, a senior official said yesterday.
The maid-Rizana Razeek has been placed on death row after Saudi Arabia ’s highest court found her guilty of smothering the child to death. The maid has denied the charges saying that the child had choked during a milk feed.
The External Affairs Ministry’s Consular Chief Somadasa Wijeysundera said the King was responding to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appeal seeking clemency for Rizana. Apart from the King, the dead child’s parents could also give a pardon or settle for blood money, Mr. Wijeysundera said.
Meanwhile several other diplomatic efforts have been stepped up both in Riyadh and other foreign capitals to gather support for the release of the maid, he added. “Our envoys in several countries both in the West and elsewhere are working closely with those respective countries towards this end. The response is encouraging but the process is slow because it needs a lot of diplomatic patience and understanding,” he said.
According to reliable information even Britain ’s Prince Charles is reported to have approached the Saudi Royal family seeking clemency for Rizana.
Sun, 14 November,