Lanka president seeks king’s intervention

Updated 08 January 2013
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Lanka president seeks king’s intervention

RIYADH: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made a personal appeal to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah seeking royal intervention to suspend the execution of housemaid Rizana Nafeek until a settlement for clemency is reached with the aggrieved parents of the deceased infant.
The president’s media spokesman Mohan Samaranayake told Arab News from Colombo yesterday that the appeal was handed to Saudi Ambassador in Colombo Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Jammaz on Sunday.
On Jun. 16, 2007, Nafeek was sentenced to death by a three-member bench at the Dawadmi High Court for killing the baby she was entrusted to look after in the absence of her Saudi employers at home. The accused maintained that the newborn choked during bottle-feeding, and that she tried to seek help.
However, the Supreme Judicial Commission affirmed the judgment in September 2010.
On Oct. 25 of the same year, President Rajapaksa made an appeal to the king to grant clemency to Nafeek on humanitarian grounds.
Subsequently, the Royal Court forwarded the case of Nafeek to be amicably resolved with the Saudi parents of the child she was convicted of killing. Nafeek’s case was adopted by the Reconciliation Committee (RC) of the Riyadh governorate, whose members have been negotiating with the parents of the deceased child.
In his letter, President Rajapaksa, while recalling his previous communication addressed to the king, said that the maid was only 17 years old at the time of the incident. “I understand that the maid is soon to be executed since the aggrieved parents are not in favor of a pardon,” the president said, appealing to the king to use his good offices to defer the execution until an amicable settlement is reached between the aggrieved parents and the reconciliation committee.
The president has further said that Nafeek’s execution could raise an outcry among the members of the local and international communities and aggravate the situation. Therefore, Rajapaksa said that he would like to seek the king’s personal intervention.
The reconciliation committee members usually approach the plaintiff to negotiate a pardon for the accused. Such negotiations are either settled with the payment of blood money or a graceful pardon from the aggrieved parties.
Legal experts in the Kingdom say Nafeek can only be saved if pardoned by the victim’s family. The pardon can be offered with or without a request for blood money.
According to top-level sources from the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo, the Saudi ambassador sent the appeal to the royal court through the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.
In her statement to the court, Nafeek had claimed that at the time of her arrival in Saudi Arabia, she was only 17 years old and a recruitment agent had falsified her documents, seizing her passport by over-stating her true age by 6 years.
The Colombo High Court sentenced the two agents, who allegedly faked the original travel documents of Nafeek, to two years in jail. The judge also asked the two accused to pay 120,000 rupees each to the parents of Nafeek as a penalty for their offense.
Nafeek arrived in Riyadh on May 4, 2005 to work as a housemaid in the household of her sponsor Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al Otaibi and was later transferred by her sponsor to work in his family household in Dawadami, about 380 km west of Riyadh.
The incident in which the infant died occurred around 12.30 p.m. on May 22, 2005 while Nafeek was bottle-feeding the infant.


Saudi space chief visits Moscow mission control center

Updated 59 min 16 sec ago
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Saudi space chief visits Moscow mission control center

  • Prince Sultan bin Salman was received by the center’s supervisor
  • He also visited the General Corporation for Heavy Space Industries, which is responsible for manufacturing spacecraft and developing technology

MOSCOW: The chairman of the Saudi Space Commission on Saturday visited the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s mission control center.
Prince Sultan bin Salman was received by the center’s supervisor, who briefed him on the center’s work and programs, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
They discussed establishing scientific and research cooperation in the areas of space and aeronautics, and the International Space Station.
Prince Sultan also visited the General Corporation for Heavy Space Industries, which is responsible for manufacturing spacecraft and developing technology. It produces most parts of the International Space Station.
He said his visit was in line with directives from King Salman to ensure close cooperation with Russia in the space sector and joint investments.
The Saudi Space Commission (SSC) was working at a “rapid pace” to complete an ambitious national strategy, he said, and the Kingdom was one of the region’s first countries to explore the future of space more than 34 years ago.
He added that programs were being prepared in partnership with Russian space institutions and agencies to train Saudi astronauts and to expand in space and satellite industries.
The prince said the commission was keen to invest in training Saudi talent through specialized programs and educational scholarships abroad.
Earlier this week, he visited the headquarters of the Russian space agency Roscosmos for a working session alongside its director-general, Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin.
“Russia considers Saudi Arabia a serious partner, with a great regional and international influence,” SPA reported Rogozin as saying.
Last month, Saudi Arabia and 10 other countries signed the first pan-Arab agreement on coordinating national exploration programs at the Global Space Congress in Abu Dhabi.
The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, said that the group’s first project would be a satellite system to be built in the UAE.
The agreement is unprecedented for the nations involved, whose levels of technical expertise vary. The first aim of the agreement will be to bring them all up to an equal level of capability.