A Sri Lankan minister in Saudi Arabia to plead for the life of a teenage housemaid condemned to death for murdering a four-month-old baby said on Monday he was hopeful of a positive outcome.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila arrived in the kingdom on Friday with the parents of Rizana Nafeek. The 19-year-old was convicted of strangling her employer's baby in 2005.
The minister told AFP he had held a meeting with the leaders of the murdered baby's tribe to plead for clemency.
"This meeting was very positive. They were very receptive to our plea," the minister told AFP by telephone.
Nafeek's parents also met their daughter for the first time in two years at the prison where she is being held.
"The parents were very broken down after the meeting. They are under a tremendous amount of emotional strain," Bhaila said.
The parents, he added, had travelled to the holy city of Mecca to perform the umra -- a minor version of the Hajj pilgrimage which all able Muslims must perform at least once in their life.
"This will hopefully provide some spiritual comfort for them," the minister said.
Around 550,000 Sri Lankans are living and working in the oil-rich kingdom, many of them as domestic helpers and as drivers. They are also a key source of foreign currency for Sri Lanka.
The minister said he was due to hold a meeting with Nafeek's lawyers to help prepare her appeal, before his delegation heads back to Sri Lanka on July 27.
The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission also said Monday it had raised 40,000 dollars to mount an appeal in the case after securing Sri Lankan government consent to file legal documents on behalf of Nafeek.
"Her death sentence will now remain suspended until the final outcome of the appeal," the group said.
Executions are usually carried out in public in Saudi Arabia, which applies a form of sharia, or Islamic law. Rape, murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking can all carry the death penalty.
In February, New York-based Human Rights Watch asked Saudi Arabia to stay executions after it beheaded four Sri Lankans and ordered the public display of their bodies.
The Sri Lankan government said it had made unsuccessful clemency appeals on behalf of the four men.
So far this year there have been 108 executions in Saudi Arabia.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Temmuz 2007, 11:02