Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News
Published — Monday 10 September 2007
Last Update 10 September 2007 3:00 am
RIYADH, 10 September 2007 — Rizana Nafeek, whose death sentence by a Dawadmi court is currently on appeal at a higher court, looked cheerful and was hopeful that she would be released soon, according to a social worker who visited her in jail over the weekend.
“Rizana was so confident that she told me to bring some good clothes to wear when she comes out of jail,” Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar told Arab News yesterday.
“She also wanted a Tamil translation of the Holy Qur’an, which I gave the woman jailor to hand to her,” he added.
Dr. Kifaya said that Rizana told her that the jailors, who are all women, look after her well. “It does not look like a jail at all; it looks like an urban home with two rooms. The place is fully air-conditioned and there is a TV for Rizana to pass her time,” Dr. Kifaya said.
In prison, Rizana was in normal clothes and said that she spends her time reciting the Qur’an, praying and watching television.
Rizana is given SR60 a month by the prison to buy toiletries. “She saves some money from it to take home,” the social worker said, adding that Rizana is anxious to see her brother and sister back home.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Human Rights Commission has assigned an officer to look after Rizana’s case. Sources said that it would also try to negotiate with the parents of the infant who is alleged to have been killed by Rizana.
Sri Lankan Ambassador A.M.J. Sadiq had met Chairman of the Human Rights Commission Turki Al-Sudairi prior to his final departure to Colombo seeking his intervention in Rizana’s case.
Basil Fernando, executive director of Asia Human Rights Commission (AHRC), told Arab News from Hong Kong that he is awaiting a reply from the Saudi legal firm, Kateb Fahd Al-Shammary, about the case. “We have already written to the lawyers and they will keep us posted regarding their next step,” Fernando said.
The AHRC has paid SR50,000, one third of the total legal fees, to the firm. The total cost of SR150,000 was collected by AHRC from a Sri Lankan philanthropist and charitable and business organizations.
“Meeting Rizana Nafeek will be high on my agenda,” said Sri Lanka’s new consul general, A.L.M. Lafir, who assumed duties at the country’s consulate in Jeddah on Saturday. “Rizana’s parents met me before my departure to Jeddah and requested me to meet their daughter and console her in whatever way possible,” Lafir said.
He pointed out that the embassy in Riyadh, headed by W.S.M.S. Wijesundera, is currently looking after her interests and that his meeting with her would boost her morale.
Lafir succeeds Masihudeen Inamullah, who left the Kingdom on completion of his tour of duty in June this year. Regarding his new posting, Lafir said, “I am thrilled to work in a place like Jeddah which is the commercial hub of the Kingdom.”
In addition to providing services to Haj and Umrah pilgrims to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, Lafir hopes to broaden economic cooperation between the two countries.
He said a large section of the 550,000-strong Sri Lankan community in the Kingdom live in the Western Province. “I hope to do my best to serve my community as well as to develop cordial relations with the locals and other expatriates,” he said.