RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP)—Rizana Nafeek, a 19-year housemaid from Sri Lanka, is on death row because the baby in her care died while she was bottle-feeding him. If her appeal is turned down, she will be taken to a public square to be publicly beheaded.
The Sri Lankan government says it is working for a reprieve, and has until Monday to file the plea. A last-minute pardon by the infant’s parents could also spare her. But if her execution goes ahead, it will be the latest in a surge of beheadings that could surpass the kingdom’s record of 191 in 2005.
“Allah, our creator, knows best what’s good for his people,’’ Suhaila Hammad of Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights told The Associated Press. “Should we just think of and preserve the rights of the murderer and not think of the rights of others?’’
Beheadings are carried out with a sword, with police holding back spectators and making sure no one takes photos. Prisoners, usually sedated, are made to kneel, flanked by clerics and law enforcement officials and facing the victim’s family.
“The prisoner now recites verses from the Quran while a government official reads the charges and the verdict,’’ according to an account in Arab News, a Saudi daily. “Halfway through the reading the executioner suddenly nicks the back of the prisoner’s neck with his sword, causing him to tense and raise his head involuntarily.’’ Then, in one swift move, the prisoner is decapitated.
The report says the baby was choking and that the prisoner was trying to sooth the child to help it breathed. When it died, she confessed to killing it. But how is this murder? SIDS kills about 2,500 American children each year—are the grieving parents of those children culpable?