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22 June 2024

Sri Lanka recalls ambassador over Saudi execution


Sri Lanka recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia Thursday to protest the beheading of a maid in the kingdom as her family pressed for her remains to be flown home.

Nafeek was found guilty of smothering the infant after an argument with the child's mother, the Saudi interior ministry has said.

Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Karunatillake Amunugama said they asked ambassador Ahmed A. Jawad to return home immediately to register Colombo's protest over Wednesday's execution of Rizana Nafeek at a prison near Riyadh.

"We are recalling him to show our displeasure," Amunugama told reporters in Colombo. He said Sri Lanka had made repeated appeals to spare her life.

The move came as President Mahinda Rajapakse deplored the execution which was carried out despite his latest clemency appeal over the weekend.

The family of Nafeek was in shock after hearing of the beheading and was pleading with the authorities to bring back her body, said family friend, Abdul Jihad, in the eastern village of Muttur.

"The family is completely heartbroken," Jihad, 46, told AFP by telephone. "They want Rizana's body brought back, although we have been told that they have already buried her."

Jihad, a science teacher at a local school who had taught Rizana, said the Sri Lankan authorities had earlier raised the family's hopes with their repeated appeals for clemency.