Saudi beheads maid accused of killing child in her 17-year-old care
76 people were beheaded in Saudi Arabia in 2012, according to an AFP tally based on official figures (Image used for illustrative purposes only)
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Saudi Arabia on Wednesday beheaded a Sri Lankan maid convicted of murdering her employer's baby, the interior ministry announced, despite calls for a stay of execution.
Rizana Nafeek smothered the infant to death after an argument with the child's mother, her employer, the ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency said.
She was beheaded in the Dawadmi province near the capital Riyadh.
Human Rights Watch had on Tuesday urged Saudi King Abdullah and the interior ministry to halt Nafeek's execution.
The New York-based watchdog said that Nafeek, who was only 17 when the incident occurred in 2005, had retracted "a confession that she said was made under duress, and says that the baby died in a choking accident while drinking from a bottle."
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sent an appeal to the Saudi king on Sunday "requesting a stay of the execution until a settlement can be reached between the baby’s family and a Saudi reconciliation committee," HRW said.
Amnesty International had also launched a bid to prevent the execution.
This is the second execution of the year in Saudi Arabia after a Syrian was beheaded on Tuesday for drug trafficking.
Last year, the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. HRW put the number at 69. Amnesty International recorded 79 beheading, 27 of whom were foreign nationals.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under its strict version of sharia, or Islamic law.