South Asia

Sri Lanka president to seek maid clemency

File picture of Mohammad Razeena (right), mother of Rizana Nafeek
Image caption Rizana Nafeek's family await news of her case from Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to appeal to the king of Saudi Arabia to revoke the death sentence on a Sri Lankan maid, officials say.

Rizana Nafeek was convicted three years ago of killing a baby in her care.

The Saudi Supreme Court recently rejected an appeal against the verdict by the maid's family.

Human rights groups say international law prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18 - which Nafeek was when the baby died.

Nafeek's parents travelled from a poor village in eastern Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia to seek a pardon from the baby's parents, but they refused to meet them.

A humanitarian worker who recently visited Nafeek said she was being treated properly in jail.

Nafeek had originally confessed to killing the four-month-old Saudi boy in 2005 but later retracted her statement saying it had been made under duress.

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