The Sri Lankan parliament observed a minute of silence as news of the execution by beheading of Rizana Nafeek, 24, in Saudi Arabia was received.
Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek had been held in a Saudi prison since 2005 charged with the murder of a four-month-old infant who had choked to death whilst in her charge. At the time of the baby's death Nafeek was just 17-years-old, meaning her execution is a breach of international child rights. She had traveled to Saudi Arabia on a fake passport as she was underage, to work as a domestic maid and send money home to her family.
Nafeek was convicted of the murder in 2007 and has languished on death row since then. In spite of an original confession Nafeek maintained her innocence. Helium reported Nafeek retracted the confession which she claimed was made under police duress, saying "In the name of Allah, I swear and aver that I never strangled the infant baby."
The Sri Lankan government sought clemency for Nafeek with the authorities in Saudi Arabia. However, under Saudi sharia law it was up to the infants parents, the Otaibis, to pardon her in return for blood money; although the baby's father agreed the mother did not.
Last week Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa appealed directly to King Abdullah of Saudi to delay the execution in hope of resolving the issue. According to Asian News Nafeek was executed on January 9. The BBC reported the Sri Lankan foreign ministry issued a statement saying: "President Rajapakse and the government deplored the execution 'despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally.'"