RIYADH: In a fresh bid to rescue the death row inmate Sri Lankan housemaid Rizana Nafeek, a senior minister from Colombo, appealed to the parents of the deceased baby killed by the domestic aide to grant her a pardon during the holy month of Ramadan.
“The maid has been in jail for seven years and now her fate lies in the hands of the aggrieved parents,” Abdul Hameed Mohammed Fowzie, a senior minister for urban affairs, said, adding that he hoped the parents would consider granting the maid a pardon during this blessed month.
Nafeek was sentenced to death by a three-member bench at the Dawadmi High Court on June 16, 2007, for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers at home. The accused maintained that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding, and that she tried to seek help.
Last year the Royal Court forwarded the case of Nafeek for an amicable settlement with the Saudi parents of the dead child. Nafeek's case is now being taken up by the Reconciliation Committee (RC) of the Riyadh governorate, whose members are currently negotiating with the parents of the deceased child.
The RC members usually approach the plaintiff to negotiate a pardon for the accused. Such negotiations are either settled with the payment of blood money or a graceful pardon from the aggrieved party.
“There is no set period for the RC to take a decision; negotiations may take weeks or sometimes several months to settle a case,” sources from the governorate said.
Legal experts in the Kingdom say Nafeek can only be saved if pardoned by the victim’s family. The pardon can be offered with or without a request for blood money.
Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker who visited Nafeek, told Arab News that the maid looks confident that someone would help her come out of jail during the holy month .
“I am sure some goodhearted people would influence the parents to grant me a pardon to release me from jail during this holy month,” Nafeek reportedly told Ifthikar on Wednesday.
Nafeek arrived in Riyadh on May 4, 2005, to work as a housemaid in the household of her sponsor Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi and was transferred by her sponsor to work in his family's house in Dawadami, about 380 km west of Riyadh.
The death occurred around 12:30 p.m. on May 22, 2005, while Nafeek was bottle-feeding the infant.
In her statement to the court, Nafeek claimed that at the time of her arrival in Saudi Arabia she was 17 years old and that a recruitment agent had falsified her documents and obtained her passport by over-stating her true age by six years.
Recently, the Colombo High Court sentenced the two agents who faked the original travel documents of Nafeek to two years of imprisonment in Colombo. The judge asked the two accused to pay 120,000 rupees each to the parents of Nafeek as penalty for their offense.