ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 06

Last minute efforts to save Rizana’s life

By Nalaka Nonis

With only eight days left to make an appeal to the Saudi Arabian Government on behalf of the 19-year-old girl who has been sentenced to death for killing an infant, the Foreign Ministry is yet to receive a copy of the judgment.

Rizana Nafeek whose home town was Mutur had gone to Saudi Arabia in May 2005 at the age of seventeen, giving a false age on her passport.She was sentenced to death on June 16 by the Saudi Arabian High Court. A period of one month starting from the date the judgment was delivered has been made available for an appeal.

Foreign Employment Promotion Minister Keheliya Rambukwella is supposed to meet Foreign Ministry officials tomorrow to discuss whether Rizana’s case could be taken up as a special one and thus provide her with legal redress.

Minister Rambukwella said he would discuss tomorrow with the authorities at the Foreign Ministry including Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila about the measures that could be taken to extend legal assistance to the girl.

There is an urgent need for the Government or any wellwishers to provide a sum of Rs. 4.5 million which is needed for her appeal to be processed in Saudi Arabia.Minister Rambukwella said the monetary aspect could be looked into as the case was different from others as Rizana had been under age at the time of the incident.

However, he said, according to lawyers in Saudi Arabia, there was a slim hope that the appeal would succeed as the girl had confessed to the deed.

Minister Bhaila said the Foreign Ministry had given the girl whatever consular assistance it could but it was up to the Foreign Employment Bureau to arrange monetary assistance for her.

He said it was planned to make an appeal through the housemaid’s parents to the Saudi King and also the family of the infant baby who had allegedly been strangled to death by the girl.

Meanwhile the Asian Human Rights Commission has made an appeal to Muslim scholars around the world and suggested that they could communicate with the unfortunate family in Saudi Arabia faced with this situation and provide the family with wise advice to help deal with this issue.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.