Lanka president seeks king’s intervention

Updated 08 January 2013

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 health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 September 2020

Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.

He added that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. A number of factors are taken into consideration when reaching a conclusion.

“We examine the drugs and make sure they have caused no side effects when tested on humans, or that they just caused insignificant side effects,” said Al-Harbi. “We also look into the manufacturing company’s profile to ensure it follows the standards of the good manufacturing practices, and that the company’s products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.”

He added that SFDA is also doing a great job in ensuring that vaccines are safe, to avoid any risks to the health of people in the Kingdom.

In a message posted on Twitter, KAIMRC said that some countries, such as Russia, China and the UAE, have given doctors the green light to use some vaccines on patients before that have been approved, but only in emergency cases and when the results of early clinical studies indicate that the vaccine is safe.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced 27 additional COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll in the country now stands at 4,512.

Meanwhile, 492 new cases have been confirmed in the Kingdom, bringing the total number of people infected by the virus to 330,246. Of those, 14,235 cases remain active and 1,133 patients are in a critical condition.

The Ministry of Health said Makkah recorded the highest number of new cases, with 58, followed by Jeddah with 53, and Madinah with 38.

A further 1,060 people in the Kingdom have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 311,499. A total of 6,093,601 tests for the virus have been carries out in the country, including 43,652 in the past 24 hours.