Saudi Arabia: EU condemns Sri Lankan nanny's execution

Shock in Sri Lanka the day after the beheading of Nafeek

10 January, 12:13

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, JANUARY 10 - The European Union has expressed 'deep shock' at the execution of a young Sri Lankan nanny in Saudia Arabia and has stressed its "strong opposition" to the death penalty "in all cases and in all circumstances".

In Europe, as from various human rights associations, "numerous requests" had been ignored for Rizana Nafeek's death sentence to be commuted, according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton. Ashton said that amongst other things it was very likely that Nafeek was "underage" when the baby in her care died and she was sentenced to death. News of the beheading, which took place Wednesday in Riyadh, has sparked a chorus of emotion in Sri Lanka where Parliament observed a minute's silence in commemoration of Nafeek.

Numerous human rights groups had organised an international campaign to pardon Nafeek.

Sri Lanka's government too, tried various diplomatic channels. President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened. And the Saudi government last week made a promise to the Sri Lankan ambassador in Riyahd to look into pleas for clemency. A second appeal to put off the execution pending a deal to compensate the family of the child was brought before Saudi Arabia's King. And a special "reconciliation committee" was created by the government to grant an out of court settlement. Nafeek arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2005 where she worked for a wealthy family. After only a few months the four month old baby in her care choked to death while being fed from a bottle. A day later Nafeek was arrested and accused of strangling the baby after a dispute with the mother.

Nafeek allegedly made a confession which she said was given under duress. In 2007 a court found her guilty of murder and sentenced her to be beheaded by sword.(ANSAmed).

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