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Saudis Prepare to Behead Teen Maid

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    Saudis Prepare to Behead Teen Maid by Tim Butcher in Jerusalem The imminent execution of a teenage maid in Saudi Arabia drew fierce criticism yesterday and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2007
      Saudis Prepare to Behead Teen Maid

      by Tim Butcher in Jerusalem

      The imminent execution of a teenage maid in Saudi Arabia drew fierce criticism yesterday and provoked condemnation of the kingdom's prolific use of capital punishment.

      The case has brought fresh attention to the draconian justice system, which is expected this year to set a record in the use of the death sentence.

      Human rights campaigners urged the authorities not to behead a 19-year old Sri Lankan maid found guilty of killing a baby in her care.

      According to the Saudi authorities, Rizana Nafeek admitted strangling the 4-month oldĀ  while feeding him with a bottle. But Nafeek, whose job was not meant to int lude child care, has denied making any such admission. She claims the child had begun to choke before losing consciousness in spite of her desperate efforts to clear his airway.

      Today is the deadline for appeals in the case. Unless the Saudi authorlties change the sentence or the parents of the victim offer clemency, Nafeek will have her head cut off by an executioner wielding a sword in front of crowd of onlookers.

      In 2005, there were 191 executions but this record could be surpassed this year as 102 have already taken place just over half way through the year. Last year the total dipped to 38 but this year's figure already includes three women, according to Amnesty International.

      Nafeek, who had been denied a lawyer at her trial, is one of 66 million foreign workers who live in Saudi Arabia. The vast majority are domestic workers employed to look after the homes of oil-rich families.

      According to the Sri Lankan Government, Nafeek had ohly been in the country a few weeks when the incident happened in May 2005. A government delegation tried to fly to Saudi Arabia to organise her appeal but encountered visa problems.

      Beheading has always been the punishment for murderers, rapists, drug traffickers and armed robbers in Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

      In February, four Sri Lankan workers were executed for armed robbery and their headless bodies left on public display in Riyadh, triggering harsh criticism from rights groups.

      Amnesty International says some defendants are convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, tarture or deception.

      Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International UK, said 'It is an absolute scandal that Saudi Arabia is preparing to behead a teenage girl who didn't even have a lawyer at her trial.

      '`The Saudi authorities are flouting an international prohibition on the execution of child offenders by even imposing a death sentence on a defendant who was reported 17 at the time of the alleged crime."

      There are so many foreign workers in Saudi Arabia that they account for a large proportion of crimes committe`L


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