Sri Lanka deplores Saudi execution of maid

COLOMBO (AFP) - President Mahinda Rajapakse deplored Wednesday's execution of a Sri Lankan maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer's baby, the government said.

Rizana Nafeek was beheaded near the Saudi capital Riyadh despite repeated appeals for clemency by Mr Rajapakse as well as international rights group, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"President Rajapakse and the government deplore the execution of Rizana Nafeek despite all efforts at the highest level of the government and the outcry of the people locally and internationally," the ministry said.

Sri Lankan lawmakers observed a minute's silence during Wednesday's sessions as parliament was told of the execution that was carried out even as Colombo tried to send a delegation to Saudi Arabia to plead for mercy.

Mr Rajapakse had made another appeal for the maid's life last week.

The Saudi interior ministry said Nafeek was beheaded for murdering her employer's baby in 2005 when she was aged 17.

She had been accused of smothering the infant after an argument with the child's mother, according to a Saudi interior ministry statement carried by the official SPA news agency.