Saudi apology over beheading: Indonesia

Saudi Arabia has apologised for failing to inform Indonesia about the beheading of a maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, Jakarta said on Wednesday.

The apology came during a meeting between Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Saudi Ambassador Abdurrahman bin Mohammed Al Khayyat, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"The ambassador apologised and regretted the situation and said that such a thing wouldn't happen again in future," said spokesman Michael Tene.

Natalegawa also handed the ambassador a letter of protest to his Saudi counterpart, Tene said.

Indonesia earlier this week recalled its ambassador to Riyadh for consultations as lawmakers demanded a strong response to the execution, which was carried out with a sword.

Indonesian migrant worker Ruyati binti Sapubi, 54, was executed on Saturday after she was convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, Khairiya bint Hamid Mijlid, with a meat cleaver.

The maid carried out the killing after she was denied permission to leave the kingdom and return to her family in Indonesia, according to officials in Jakarta.

In a second case, a court in the Saudi capital of Riyadh had sentenced Indonesian maid Darsem to death for murdering her Yemeni employer in December 2007 in what she called an act of self-defence as the employer had tried to rape her.

Indonesian officials had said she could escape the sentence if she received pardon from the family, who forgave her in January on the condition that she pays the compensation or "diyat" of two million riyals ($533,000).

The Indonesian government will be paying the compensation ahead of July's deadline, Tene said.

"The full amount had been transferred to the Indonesian embassy in Riyadh and a team from the Foreign Ministry will be flying there tonight to oversee the payment process. We hope her life will be spared," he said.

Both women's cases are the latest in a string of incidents involving Indonesian menial labourers in the Middle East.

Lawmakers on Tuesday urged the government to stop sending migrant workers abroad without agreements guaranteeing their basic rights.

Natalegawa and other key members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet have faced calls to resign over the persistent abuse of Indonesian migrant workers abroad.

Around 70 percent of the 1.2 million Indonesians working in Saudi Arabia are domestic helpers, according to officials.

Human rights groups say workers from countries like Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka underpin the Gulf states' economies but face extreme forms of exploitation.

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