Asia

Saudi Arabia 'spares' Sri Lankan maid in adultery case

Sri Lankan human rights activists protest against a Saudi death by stoning sentence of a migrant worker accused of adultery, opposite the UN office in Colombo, Sri Lanka Image copyright EPA
Image caption Saudi Arabia's initial decision to convict the woman was met with protests in Colombo

The life of a Sri Lankan maid due to be stoned to death in Saudi Arabia for adultery has been spared, Sri Lanka's foreign ministry says.

She will instead be imprisoned, Sri Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Harsha de Silva announced.

An appeal by Sri Lanka was considered by Saudi Arabia and the execution order was withdrawn, he said.

The woman was convicted in August, along with an unmarried Sri Lankan man.

She was sentenced to death by stoning, while the man was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Saudi Arabia agreed to reopen the case of the woman - a 45-year-old mother of two - earlier this month.

There was no immediate comment in Saudi state media on the news the woman had been spared.

Sri Lankan indignation

Saudi Arabia's initial decision to stone the woman was condemned in Sri Lanka.

Government official Ranjan Ramanayake said the Sri Lankan government had been informed about the woman's case only after she had been convicted - despite the fact she had been arrested in April 2014.

"Islamic Sharia law says four respected Muslims need to be eyewitnesses for this type of case, but this has not been possible in this case," he said.

"Unfortunately, not knowing the law, she has confessed under pressure without any legal help."

The case sparked protests in November outside the UN compound and the Saudi embassy in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo - with some calling for a ban on sending Sri Lankan workers to Saudi Arabia.

The Sri Lankan government says it is gradually reducing the number of women sent to work in the Middle East.

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