In an eleventh-hour reprieve, Saudi Arabia has agreed to retry a 45-year-old Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, the government on Tuesday said.
“We have succeeded in winning this re-trial. We will be representing her legally at government cost,” Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva told reporters here, without elaborating the grounds for the re-trial.
The woman, a married mother of two, has been sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery with a Sri Lankan man, also working in Saudi Arabia.
The man has been sentenced to 100 lashings.
There was a huge public outcry in Sri Lanka following the sentences in August. Civil society and rights organisations unitedly urged the government to intervene to secure clemency for the woman and a pardon for the man.
The government even faced demands to ban women from going abroad as maids.
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met the Saudi envoy to Colombo last week and expressed concern over the case.
This was the second death sentence given to a Sri Lankan national in Saudi Arabia since 2013, when Saudi Arabia beheaded a 17-year-old woman convicted of killing a baby in her care in 2005.
Under the conservative Saudi Arabia’s strict sharia laws, murder, armed robbery, rape, adultery, drug trafficking and apostasy are all punishable by death.