ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 11, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 24

Rizana’s fate still in the balance

By Nalaka Nonis

The Government and human rights organisations are waiting until the appeal filed in the Saudi Arabian courts seeking a pardon for Rizana Nafeek will be called, while the victim’s family has continuously refused to consider clemency for the Sri Lankan housemaid.

Human rights activists who have intervened on behalf of Rizana who was convicted by a Saudi Arabian court for allegedly strangling an infant who was under her care, stated that while initiating a legal battle to release the 19-year old girl they have also made appeals to the Saudi government through well-known human rights organisations to conduct a proper hearing into the case.A spokesman for a human rights organisation said a strong appeal has been made in Saudi courts with the hope of seeking Rizana’s freedom. He said the lawyer who is appearing for the housemaid has gathered reasonable evidence to prove the accused’s innocence in case the appeal is heard.

He said an effort was made to approach the victim’s family through a tribe leader who could persuade the family to consider clemency for the girl. Rizana’s lawyer has written to the Asian Human Rights Commission’s president Basil Fernando saying that sureties at the Saudi Arabian courts with regard to Rizana’s appeal have been approved and therefore there must not be any worry as his client’s case should pass necessary stages and court sessions according to the Saudi Arabian laws and regulations.

He has also stated that if the death sentence was confirmed (presently not confirmed), there were some other ways to protect his client from the sentence by obtaining relinquishment from the heirs of the victim either in God’s name or by paying blood money to the heirs.

Mohammed Maharoof consultant for Cordaid a donor organisation, said a few days ago he was able to speak to Rizana and she pleaded with him to get her released soon.“She said that she is ok and the prison authorities treat her well. She asked me to pray to Allah, so that she could come back to Sri Lanka soon,” he said. She has also told him that she wasn’t too scared to be in prison but had been worried how she would be looked upon if she was able to return home.

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