Dawadmi High Court, 380 km from the capital, convicted Rizana Nafeek on June 16, 2007, of the murder of her Saudi employers’ baby. She maintains that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding.
Nafeek, who is currently in jail in Dawadmi, is still unaware that she could escape the death sentence only if she obtains a pardon from the victim’s family.
Nafeek told Kifaya Ifthikar, a social worker who went to see her on Tuesday, that she was thankful to the authorities for giving her the opportunity to speak to her family in Sri Lanka.
According to Ifthikar, Nafeek requested her parents over the phone to speak to the Colombo government to secure her release from jail where she has been languishing since May 2005.
Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera wrapped up a day's visit to the capital following a meeting with Deputy Labour Minister for Planning and Development Mufarrij bin Saad Al-Hagbani on Tuesday.
The minister, who was on a brief visit to the Kingdom with Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chairman Kingsley Ranawake, explored opportunities for a negotiated pardon for Nafeek.
Former Sri Lankan ambassador in Riyadh Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, who is currently the country’s envoy in Cairo, also came to Riyadh to hold discussions with the visiting minister on matters concerning Nafeek.
Ansar had earlier met the tribal leader of the victim’s family with former Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussein Bhaila.
According to Perera, who has been entrusted by the country's president Mahinda Rajapksa to coordinate the case with the Saudi government, has said his government is ready to pay the requested blood money to save the girl.
"The government is so concerned that the whole country is focused on this case and we are all interested in saving this poor maid who came to the Kingdom in search of greener pastures," he said.
In September last year, Rajapaksa had also requested Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to pardon Nafeek, who came to the Kingdom seeking employment as a housemaid.
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.
Arab News learned that the visiting delegation held discussions with authorities to see if a pardon could be worked out for Nafeek with the concerned parents. It was revealed during talks that Sri Lankan government officials would try to meet the community leader, the victim’s father Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi and his wife in a ministerial visit soon after Ramadan.
Under Shariah law, the state cannot force the bereaved family to give up their rights. The government can offer reconciliation efforts and pay blood money, but the family must be the one to decide if Nafeek is executed or pardoned.
Nafeek entered the Kingdom aged 17, under the legal age of employment, to work as a maid on documents forged by her recruiter. She was then assigned nanny duties by the family.
According to Nafeek’s passport, her date of birth is stated as February 2, 1982, whilst the certified copy of her birth certificate indicates her actual date of birth as February 4, 1988. (Source: Arab News)