Rizana’s lawyer doubts translator’s credentials
RIYADH, 10 June 2008 — The lawyer defending Rizana Nafeek, a 20-year-old Sri Lankan maid who was found guilty and sentenced to death on a charge of murdering an infant in her care, questioned yesterday the validity of the translation of the Tamil-speaking woman’s statements to police.
Kateb Al-Shammary questioned whether these statements were translated by someone qualified to do accurate Tamil-to-Arabic translations of Nafeek’s statements made after she was arrested on May 22, 2005, for the death of a baby in her care in the town of Dawadmi, about 220 km east of Riyadh.
Al-Shammary, Nafeek and Naif Jiziyan Khalaf Al-Otaibi, the father of the dead infant, were present in court during the hearing.
The translators sent by the Sri Lankan Embassy to look after Nafeek’s interests were refused permission to enter the courtroom since the judges wanted to listen only to the attorney’s submissions during the hearing.
The lawyer said he wants to know the credentials, background and proficiency in Tamil of the translator who interpreted Nafeek’s statement at the police station at the time of her arrest. The court told the attorney that his statement would be deferred to the Supreme Judicial Council for its own decision.
Yesterday marks the fourth time Nafeek appeared before the Dawadmi High Court. The court first sentenced her to death in June 2007. The case was appealed a month later. In December 2007, the Cassation Court sent the case back to Dawadmi. In March the Dawadmi court sent the case to the Supreme Judicial Council and in April the case was bounced back to Dawadmi. However, the head of the Dawadmi court, Sheikh Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Rosaimi, insisted that the Supreme Judicial Council should take up any further objections and the case was sent back.
But the Supreme Judicial Council recently returned the case to the Dawadmi court, ruling that judges must hear Al-Shammary’s objections. The court once again said yesterday that the Supreme Judicial Council would have to address the attorney’s objections.
Al-Shammary further argued that Nafeek, who was 17 at the time she came to Saudi Arabia on a passport that stated her age as 23, was never hired to be a nanny and that the death occurred due to her inexperience with newborns.