Saudi court reopens case of Sri Lanka woman sentenced to die

COLOMBO: A Saudi court has decided to reopen the case of a Sri Lankan woman who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, a Sri Lankan government minister said Tuesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva told parliament that an appeals court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, has decided to hear the case again following pleas by Sri Lanka's foreign ministry.

"Based on the advice of the lawyers and our (foreign ministry's) intervention on the matter, a decision has been reached to reopen the case," de Silva told lawmakers.

"We see this as a victory," he said, adding that the ministry will bear all the legal expenses of reopening the case and "make the fullest efforts in order to get this judgment changed."

The 45-year-old married woman with two children, who was working as a maid in Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to death in August. The unmarried Sri Lankan man convicted alongside her was sentenced to 100 lashes. The foreign ministry has not revealed their identities.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met with an official from the Saudi Embassy in Colombo last week and expressed Sri Lanka's concerns about the case. Samaraweera has also requested to speak with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister to seek clemency for the woman.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation of Sri Lanka's minority Muslims, said it wrote to the Saudi king last week to ask him to pardon the woman and the man, noting their inferior education and poor economic situation.