Condemned Housemaid Rizana Nafeek Insane: Life vacillate whilst years in 'Death Row'
Condemned Sri Lankan Housemaid Rizana Nafeek is traumatized - suffering from serious mental disturbances, memory not coherent and not understanding the reality surrounding life due to prolonged stay in prison. In the meantime, the mother of the deceased four-month-old son is adamantly demanding Rizana Nafeek be put to the executioner’s blade.
The brother of this mother whom this writer met over a working lunch in Riyadh, relented after hard persuasion that he and his family members are ready to meet and start talks with a Sri Lankan official delegation.
In the meantime, Asian Tribune learnt that the Dawadami prison authorities has not informed even the Interior Ministry of the abnormal mental affliction that has caught up with the Sri Lankan House Maid, who has been locked behind the bars since 25 May 2005 and after 16 June 2007 to date she is languishing in the death row.
They say that insanity a common phenomenon in the midst of the prisoners who has been condemned in the death row and awaiting the executioner’s blade, according to a source.
They are of the opinion, if in case that mental disorder is brought to the notice of the higher authorities; her execution will be differed indefinitely, until she is cured.
Meeting with Riyadh Governor Prince Salman
On the 17th of this month, Sri Lanka's Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen met Riyadh Governor Salman bin Abdul-Aziz bin Abdul-Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud, along with Ahmed Aflal Jawad, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Riyadh.
Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz bin Abdul-Rahman bin Faisal bin Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud is the Governor of the Riyadh Province of Saudi Arabia since 1962. He is the second youngest of the “Sudairi” Seven.
He has a reputation for fairness and competence which has propelled him to be amongst the Kingdom's most powerful royals. Al Sudairi Clan - Since King Fahd’s ascent to the throne in 1982, the most influential clan of the Al Faisal branch of the Al Saud family had been the Al Sudairi [Sudeiri], known by the patronymic of Fahd's mother [Hussa bint Ahmad Al Sudairi, known later as Umm Fahd].
Asian Tribune learnt that the Head of Sri Lanka Mission has briefed the Minister not to take up with the Riyadh Governor Prince Salman issues connected with the young Rizana Nafeek, but only to express his thanks for the proposed future actions to be taken by the Governor to safeguard the House Maid
Asian Tribune also learnt that the Ambassador insisted that the Governor was making arrangements to contact Mr. & Mrs Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Otaibi, to seek their apology to release Sri Lankan House Maid and the Royal Palace to arrange the payment of blood money, which might be insisted by deceased baby’s parents.
This story was also told to this writer when I met him at the VIP Arrival Lounge of the King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh on the early morning of 17th, when I arrived to Riyadh from Doha.
When I arrived in the airport, I was told that Sri Lanka Minister Rishad Bathiudeen too has arrived at the same time from Dubai and waiting at the VIP Lounge of the Airport.
So this writer went to meet him and also met the Ambassador and when I inquired about the plight of the Sri Lankan House Maid, the same story was narrated to me.
Unfortunately, I was not convinced as it did not sound well and there was no written document to authenticate this story.
Even the Sri Lanka Minister said that he has not received any briefing papers from the Ambassador, but he has insisted that the Minister not to take up the issue of Rizana Nafeek with Prince Salman, the Governor of Riyadh.
Asian Tribune later learnt that Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who came to uphold the integrity of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has dutifully insisted with the Riyadh Governor Prince Salman to take appropriate measures to safeguard the life of the Housemaid Rizana as appealed by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and refused to parrotize what the Ambassador has told him.
Meeting With Mr. Abdul Qader Al-Mashoor
In the meantime, this writer who has been invited by Mr. Abdul Qader Al-Mashoor, a leading Sri Lankan Businessman and one attached as Advisor at the Private Office of Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Faizal Al Saud met with Mr. Abu Abdul Malik, the brother of Mrs. Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Otaibi, also one of the tribal leaders.
This writer met with Mr. Abu Abdul Malik, along with Mr. Abdul Qader Al-Mashoor, at a working lunch in one of the leading restaurants in Riyadh.
It was lot of persuasion to convince Mr. Abu Abdul Malik. He said that his family was not satisfied with the approach of the Sri Lankan Ambassador and the Embassy staff located in Riyadh & Jeddah Saudi Arabia.
He revealed with pain of mind and regret that the Embassy was continuously reminding the family the loss of the baby boy to his sister as well to his brother-in-law.
I continued with the inconclusive discussion later with Mr. Abu Abdul Malik at the villa of Mr. Abdul Qader Al-Mashood, located at the posh residential area in Riyadh over qahoua – Arabic Coffee.
Mr. Abu Abdul Malik Agreed to Meet Sri Lanka Official Delegation
In the end, Mr. Abu Abdul Malik agreed that in case Sri Lanka Government sends in an official delegation, then the family is ready for discussion regarding their position on the plight of the Housemaid Rizana Nafeek.
He said it has to be an official delegation from Sri Lanka Government and not from any Non-Government Organizations.
The Government delegation should be led by someone who has the authority to make an on the spot decisions and has to exclude in the meeting the Sri Lankan Ambassador and his staffs in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Sri Lankan Ambassadors in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A.M.J. Sadiq Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has been recalled by the Foreign Ministry prior to the completion of his tour of duty in Saudi Arabia. He is set to arrive in Colombo later in October 2007.
The decision to remove him follows the ambassador’s failure to obtain any official appointment for the visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Bhaila who left for Riyadh to discuss the possibility of securing a pardon for teenage Sri Lankan housemaid Fathima Rizana Nafeek who has been sentenced to death on charges of killing a four month old infant in her care.
Abdul Ageed Mohammed Marleen was appointed following the removal of Ambassador, A.M.J. Sadiq , as Sri Lanka's envoy to the Kingdoma on 24th March 2008.
On 23rd June 2009, Ambassador Mohammed Marleen has passed away while he was on an official visit in the Republic of Yemen to attend the IOR-ARC Ministerial Meeting. He was 71 years at the time of his untimely demise.
Ahmed Aflal Jawad has been subsequently appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka as the New Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Ambassador Jawad joined the Sri Lankan Foreign Service in 1988 as deputy chief of protocol and subsequently served in Stockholm, Paris and Beijing as third secretary, first secretary and minister, respectively. In 2004, he became the island’s ambassador in Oslo. In 2007 he became the director general of economic affairs at the Foreign Ministry.
He insisted that discussion will be held within the framework of laws and constitution of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Abu Abdul Malik pointed out that the discussion has to be approved by the Riyadh Governor Prince Salman.
Sri Lanka Housemaid Rizana Nafeek
The young Rizana Nafeek is from Muthur, the eldest daughter of a woodcutter.
Her father could not find work and therefore found it hard to feed his four children- Rizana, her two sisters- Rifka and Rizna and her brother Rifkhan due to the bloody separatist war that had wrecked havoc upon the Indian Ocean Island and caused so much of suffering to her community as well.
The desperate Sri Lankan mother – Rafeena Nafeek, whose child- Rizana, a bright and intelligent student sacrificed her education and sent her to Saudi Arabia in 2005, so that her family could feed and educate the other three younger siblings.
So, she decided to send their teenage eldest daughter Rizana Nafeek to work as House Maid to a Gulf Country and so approached a recruitment agency.
The recruitment agency, subsequently back in 2005, had forged a passport for her, using 2.4.1982 as her date of birth instead of 2.2.1988.
Arrived in Saudi Arabia
Rizana Nafeek, holder of Sri Lanka Passport No. N. 0331835 arrived in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 4th May, 2005 to work as a housemaid in the household of her sponsor, Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Otaibi, whose wife had a new-born baby boy.
A few days after her arrival in Riyadh, Rizana Nafeek had been transferred by her sponsor to work in his family household in Dawadami, about 390 km west of Riyadh.
Apart from performing the daily household chores of cleaning, cooking, washing and ironing clothes, Rizana had also been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the sponsor’s four-month old infant son, which she was not trained to do.
While she was feeding the infant around 12.30 p.m. on 25th May, 2005, the baby-boy started choking, as so often happens to babies and Rizana panicked and shouted for help, while tried to sooth the child by massaging the child’s throat, neck and face, doing whatever she could to help him. At her shouting the mother arrived, but by that time the baby was either unconscious or dead.
Arrest of Rizana Nafeek and Court sentenced to Death
Subsequently the 4 month old baby of Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi died of choking while being bottle-fed milk by Rizana. She had been arrested by the Dawadami Police on the same day, and it was reported that she had allegedly confessed to the killing the child.
Rizana had repeated her confession in the open court. However, at the court hearing on 3rd February, 2007, Rizana retracted her confession and informed the court that her original confession admitting to the killing the child had been obtained by the Police under duress.
Initially a three-member panel of judges from the Dawadami High Court headed by Chief Justice Abdullah Al-Rosaimi found Rizana Nafeek guilty of murdering the four-month-old son of Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi and sentenced her to death on June 16, 2007.
Appealed filed in the Supreme Court
The court informed Rizana Nafeek that she could file an appeal against her death sentence, which she did.
When the maid’s case was referred to the Supreme Court via the Court of Cassation, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) assigned a Saudi law firm Khateb Al-Shammary on a reported SR150,000 contract to defend her.
The Supreme Court referred the case again to the Dawadami court for further clarification on the appeal made by Al-Shammary before issuing its verdict.
Previously the case has been called on August 31, 2008, 2008, October 5, 2008 and November 6, 2008.
The case has been pending before the Dawadami High Court. Rizana’s defense has always been that the death was accidental.
Rizana Nafeek, a young girl from Sri Lanka who went to Saudi Arabia as a domestic helper when she was a 17 year-old teenager, and who was within a very short time of her arrival in Saudi Arabia ( within 21 days), accused of the murder of an infant under her charge.
The alleged incident of murder happened on 25 May 2005 and ever since Rizana has been languishing in jail.
The case has been pending before the Dawadami High Court. The case was postponed because the witnesses who were called to testify about the authenticity of the translator, has left the country, and was not present in court on January 4, 2009.
Previously the case has been called on August 31, 2008, October 5, 2008 and November 6, 2008.
Rizana Nafeek was indefinitely confined to jail as the alleged translator, named Saibo, having left Saudi Arabia. The lawyers acting for Rizana have expressed doubts about the credentials and the validity of the translation which is supposed to be a confession by Rizana, who is a Tamil language speaker. Doubt has been expressed about the translator’s knowledge of the Tamil language.
As the translator is out of Saudi Arabia, the court has no way to verify his qualifications and the credibility of his translation. Under these circumstances two witnesses were called to testify as to his integrity and qualifications, which is permitted under Saudi law. However, these witnesses also failed to appear. The result was that the appeal is not being heard and Rizana continues to remain in jail for no fault of her own.
During the last hearing, which took place on Nov. 4, Nafeek's lawyer Kateb Al-Shammari said Saibo should be questioned in court for clarifications regarding accuracy of his translation.
The lawyer said the court couldn't come to a conclusion without questioning the veracity of Saibo's statements on which the death sentence was based.
The Dawadmi high court reviewed the case on the instructions of the Supreme Judicial Council. The case has bounced between these courts and through the Court of Cassation numerous times.
The father of the deceased infant, Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi, who has regularly appeared for these hearings, and on the later stages of the case he was not seen in court.
Efforts were taken for reconciliatory measures with Al-Otaibi, but Asian Tribune learnt that the wife of Al-Otaiba, the mother of the child was said to be adamant and was not prepared to forgive the Sri Lankan maid.
Supreme Courts Ratify the Death Sentence
In the meantime, Asian Tribune learnt that the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia confirmed the death sentence of Sri Lanka house maid Rizana Nafeek on the 25th of September 2010.
Unfortunately, the lawyer who appeared for Rizana Nafeek came to know of the confirmation of the death sentence only on 19 October 2010 and subsequently he has informed this to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh on the following day.
Asian Tribune also learnt that by that time the Supreme Court has already referred the confirmation of the death sentence to the Riyadh Governorate.
On 25th October, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of External Affairs handed over the original letter by President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking clemency to Rizana Nafeek to the Saudi Ambassador in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Embassy in Riyadh also handed over the copy of the same letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.
So far Sri Lanka Government has not heard any official response from the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Asian Tribune -