Sri Lanka appeals death-row maid

2010-10-26 12:03

Colombo - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has appealed for the king of Saudi Arabia to spare the life of a Sri Lankan housemaid convicted of killing an infant, his office said on Tuesday.

Rizana Nafeek, who was working in the Middle Eastern country, was found guilty of killing a four-month-old baby boy in her care in 2005.

The Saudi Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal against the verdict by the maid's family.

"President Mahinda Rajapakse wrote to King Abdullah... of Saudi Arabia seeking clemency for Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek," his office said in a statement.

Nafeek, who was 17 at that time, has maintained that the death of the infant was an accident. She originally confessed to killing the baby, but later retracted her statement saying it had been made under duress.

Around 550 000 Sri Lankans live and work in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, many of them as domestic helpers or drivers. They are a key source of foreign currency for Sri Lanka.