Riyadh suspends stoning of Sri Lankan domestic worker
Colombo (AsiaNews) - Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend the sentence of death by stoning of a Sri Lankan woman who worked as a maid in the Kingdom. The worker, of undisclosed and identity mother of two children, was sentenced to death for adultery, while her lover (an unmarried man) is to receive 100 lashes.
Harsha de Silva, Deputy Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, yesterday reported Riyadh’s decision to reopen the case to Parliament in Colombo. In recent days, several religious leaders, social activists and the government had launched an urgent appeal for a pardon.
De Silva added that Colombo’s diplomats have met the convicted in prison and have reassured her that they will reach an agreement. "We believe this decision is a victory," he said, adding that the ministry will pay the full amount of the legal fees for the reopening of the proceedings and "will make every effort to change this ruling."
Last week, the case of the worker sparking widespread public concern. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with his Saudi counterpart to call Riyadh’s attention to the woman’s case. In addition, the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, an organization of the Muslim minority in the island, wrote to the Saudi king to ask forgiveness for both the perpetrators, emphasizing their low level of education and the situation of economic poverty.
Finally, the National Sangha Council, a Buddhist, has written a letter-appeal Saudi Ambassador in Sri Lanka requesting he take every effort to save the woman's life. The letter was followed by demonstrations in front of the embassy and the United Nations Office of the capital of Sri Lanka.