[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 29 16:15:14 CDT 2007
No Clemency From Family in Rizana Case
A top level Sri Lankan delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein
Bhaila leaves the Kingdom today after meeting with several Saudi officials
to seek clemency for a young Sri Lankan woman who was found guilty of
murdering an infant child, opening the way for her to be publicly
The woman, who was 17 at the time she came to the Kingdom to work in 2005
as a housemaid for a Saudi family near Riyadh, claims the 4-month-old baby
she was told to care for accidentally choked to death. The death occurred
on the maid's 2nd week on the job.
Rizana Nafeek was found guilty of murder rather than accidental death on
June 16 by a panel of three judges. Earlier this month the Sri Lankan
mission in Saudi Arabia succeeded in filing a last-minute appeal, which
has temporarily put execution off the table pending the outcome of the
Cassation Court trial.
Meanwhile, Lankan officials are moving forward with petitioning the family
of the child to give up their private right to see Nafeek, who is now 19
years old according to her Sri Lankan birth certificate. As of yesterday
the parents of the child have not backed down with their request to
execute the young woman for what they say was a premeditated act of
Accompanying the deputy minister was Ibrahim Sahib Ansar, director general
of Middle East and North African Affairs at the Lankan Ministry of Foreign
affairs as well as a representative from the Foreign Employment Bureau.
Rizana's father, Mohammed Nafeek, and mother, Razeena, also accompanied
An attorney has now been retained for Nafeek's appeal trial.
"We are currently preparing a detailed objection to file at court with all
the details related to the case," the lawyer, Kateb Al-Shammari, told Arab
One of the key contentions of the appeals trial will center on Nafeek's
age. Nafeek's Lankan passport says she was 23 when the death of the child
took place. Her birth certificate puts her at 17 when the death occurred,
which would have made her a minor at the time of the incident. Nafeek
claims that her recruiter in Sri Lanka provided these falsified documents
to her in order to illegally meet the age requirements for employment in
Saudi Arabia, which prohibits the import of minors as workers.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has signed an international agreement not to
impose the death penalty on minors, defined as persons under the age of
"It is obvious that unscrupulous foreign employment firms in Sri Lanka
have forged her birth date to get her in the country," Al-Shammari said.
The lawyer also claims that the confession obtained by police after Nafeek
was detained should be tossed out because it was obtained without Nafeek's
ability to fully understand what was going on during the interrogation.
"She clearly denied any wrongdoing in court," he said. "She mentioned that
she was not totally aware of what she has been accused of due to the lack
of a translator."
Al-Shammari said he had met with the visiting Sri Lankan delegation in his
office in Riyadh.
"I explained to them the court procedures in the Kingdom and assured them
that the Saudi legal system does not differentiate between a local and a
foreigner," he said.
The attorney said the court trials were still in its initial stage and
there was no need for the intervention of human rights organizations.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has already intervened to some extent by
helping to raise funds to pay Al-Shammari's SR150,000 fee. Al-Shammari was
retained as an attorney after AHRC orchestrated the drive to come up with
the money for Nafeek's defense, some of which has been donated by Lankan
citizens working in the Kingdom. The group is still working to come up
with the rest of the money.
Nafeek is currently being held at a women's prison facility in Al-Dawadmi,
the town 340 km outside of Riyadh where the Saudi family that hired Nafeek
Now the question of whether Nafeek will be publicly beheaded for murder is
in the hands of a 3-judge panel in Al-Dawadmi.
Around 550,000 Sri Lankans live and work in Saudi Arabia, many of them as
domestic helpers or drivers.
(source: Arab News)
More Lankans enter death row
2 more Sri Lankans have been sentenced to death by Saudi authorities,
while four Sri Lankan migrant workers are charged with the murder of a
Yemeni national and may face the death penalty, a Foreign Ministry media
spokesperson said. A Sri Lankan mother, Halemma Nissa Cader and K.M.S.
Bandaranaike were recently condemned to death after they were found guilty
of armed robbery and the murder of an old woman in Jeddah.
"The other 4 Sri Lankans currently facing trial in Saudi Arabia may be
jailed or face a death sentence," the spokesman told The Sunday Times.
"The ministry is currently unable to verify if any of these Sri Lankans
are being legally represented," he said.
The Government confirmed that at least 8 more Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia
are charged with various criminal offences.
Human rights organizations are accusing the Saudi authorities of not
having followed acceptable judicial procedure to convict the 2 Sri Lankan
nationals. The organization also claimed that the condemnation of the Sri
Lankans, who had no legal advocacy, was based on confessions taken under
duress. In a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) has urged the Government to sign agreements to ensure
legal protection would be available to Sri Lankan migrant workers in West
It has said the signing of the International Convention on the protection
of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families would
enable the United Nations to intervene in situations where Sri Lankans are
charged with criminal offences and ensure their protection.
(source: The Sunday Times)
Abdullah commutes death sentences for 7 militants
Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday commuted the death sentences of 7
Islamic militants to 15 years hard labor for instigating violent unrest,
the official Petra news agency said.
The militants were part of a group of 108 defendants charged with inciting
a wave of violence in November 2002. 6 people, including 2 police
officers, were killed in clashes as army and police in the southern city
of Maan pursued militant leader Mohammed Ahmed al-Chalabi, also known as
Jordan's militant court sentenced al-Chalabi and 8 others to death in
March 2006. Abu-Sayyaf was among those whose death sentences was commuted.
(source: Associated Press)
China court sentences two to death for botched pipeline drilling
A court in eastern China has handed down 2 death sentences for a botched
attempt to steal seabed petroleum which resulted in an oil and gas leak
costing 400 million yuan (51 million dollars), the official Xinhua news
agency reported Sunday.
Gang members, Wang Yujiang and Liu Linbin, who masterminded the crime,
were sentenced to death at first trial on Friday at the Intermediate
People's Court in Dongying in the eastern Shandong Province, Xinhua said.
Shi Guoyong, another leader of the same eastern Chinese gang, got a
suspended death sentence, and seven others were sentenced to prison terms
ranging from 3 years to life.
According to the reports, investigators found the gang, at Wang's
instruction, stole into a seabed oil extraction centre of the country's
2nd largest oilfield Shengli in June 2005 to drill what they thought was
an oil pipeline.
They succeeded in perforating the pipe but fled when they found it
contained natural gas instead of oil.
In July, they stole 10 tons of crude oil, valued at more than 30,000 yuan,
from a pipeline in a different location, the reports said. The perforated
pipeline was not capped until after employees of Shengli Oilfield detected
an oil leak five months later.
A natural gas leak from the pipeline damaged earlier was discovered only
in March 2006.
Emergency repairs and cleanup at the 2 locations plus the damages to the
local fisheries cost an estimated 400 million yuan, Xinhua cited court
officials as saying.
(source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Failing to get pardon for 50 on Death Row, Kalam says let Patil decide
President Pratibha Patil has inherited a desk clear of any pending papers
from her predecessor A P J Abdul Kalam. Except for one sensitive,
controversial dossier: the fate of an estimated 50 individuals on death
row awaiting the Rashtrapati Bhavans decision on their pardon.
These include those convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,
members of Veerappan's gang and those who were convicted for the attack on
former Youth Congress chief M S Bitta.
In fact, top sources have told The Sunday Express that one of the last
notings that Kalam signed a day or two before he demitted office was one
in which he wrote, "These files may be put up to my successor for a
That decision will be watched keenly given that Kalam himself, as first
reported in The Indian Express in October, 2005, had raised a legal storm
by writing to the Union Home Ministry advocating calling for pardon for
most of these convicts. He is also understood to have asked that the
convicts be treated with compassion, be provided counselling and spiritual
guidance instead of the gallows, and allowed to spend their remaining
years with their families.
The Home Ministry got back with the recommendation that the Government's
stand remained unchanged in all these cases: that these were not fit for
The only instance in which Kalam decided on rejecting the mercy petition
on the advice of the Home Ministry was in the case of child rapist
Dhananjay Chatterjee who was on August 14, 2004, became the 55th person to
hang since Independence.
Although Article 72 of the Constitution says that the President shall have
the power to grant pardons," it's been interpreted to mean that, like in
most matters, the President is bound by whatever advice the Council of
Ministers gives on mercy petitions as well.
These files have been pending for a while, some for as long as 10 years
Kalam himself inherited 12 mercy petitions from ex-President K R
Narayanan, the number almost doubled during his 5-year tenure.
Kalam's aides are understood to have raised the issue of the unsigned
mercy files with him during his last days in office but his reaction was
the same philosophical one: "If I cannot give life to anyone, I don't see
why I should give death."
Contrary to reports, the mercy petition of Parliament attack accused Afzal
Guru has not reached Rashtrapati Bhavan since the advice of the Ministry
of Home Affairs on whether the case is fit for Presidential pardon or not
is still awaited.
(source: Indian Express)
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