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Saudi Arabia agrees to fresh trial for condemned Sri Lankan woman: Harsha

Saudi authorities have agreed to reopen the case of a Sri Lankan housemaid sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva told parliament Tuesday.

Sri Lankan diplomats met with the unidentified woman at a Saudi jail over the weekend and Colombo secured agreement to give her a fresh trial, the deputy minister said.

"Through our intervention, they (Saudi authorities) have agreed to reopen the case," de Silva told parliament. "This can be considered a big victory. We will provide her with legal counsel."

Sri Lanka’s parliament had heard calls to ban women travelling to Saudi Arabia as housemaids since another was beheaded in 2013 after being convicted of killing a baby under her care in 2005 when she herself was 17 years old.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera met the Saudi envoy to Colombo last week and expressed concern over the latest case of the woman and a man convicted alongside her.

The woman, a 45-year-old married mother of two who has not been named, was convicted of adultery in August.

She was sentenced to death by stoning, while an unmarried Sri Lankan man convicted alongside her was sentenced to 100 lashes.

Sri Lankan lawmakers from all parties have united in urging the government to secure clemency for the woman and a pardon for the man.

Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority on Monday appealed to the Saudi King Salman on Monday to intervene and pardon the couple.

Under the conservative kingdom’s strict Islamic sharia legal code, murder, armed robbery, rape, adultery, drug trafficking and apostasy are all punishable by death.

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