Sunday, January 13, 2013
Saudi Arabia has criticized world reaction to its beheading a Sri Lankan maid convicted of killing her employer's baby
Rizana Nafeek was beheaded in a case that sparked widespread international condemnation, including from rights groups which said that she was just 17 when she was charged with murdering the baby in 2005. Nafeek was found guilty of smothering the infant after an argument with the child's mother. The case soured diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka which has recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia in protest. The government spokesman condemned what he called "wrong information on the case," and denied that the maid was a minor when she committed the crime. "As per her passport, she was 21 years old when she committed the crime," he said, adding that "the kingdom does not allow minors to be brought as workers." He said that the authorities had tried hard to convince the baby's family to accept "blood money," but they rejected any amnesty and insisted that the maid be executed. The UN's human rights body has expressed "deep dismay" at the beheading, and the European Union said that it had asked the Saudi authorities to commute the death penalty. Human Rights Watch said that Nafeek had retracted "a confession" that she said was made under duress. She said that the baby accidentally choked to death while drinking from a bottle. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia's strict version of sharia, or Islamic law. In 2012, the Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to a tally based on official figures, while HRW puts the number at 69. So far in 2013, three people have been executed.