Family seeks body of maid beheaded in Saudi Arabia

A demonstrator holds an image of Rizana Nafeek, jailed in Saudi Arabia on charges of murdering a four-month-old baby who was in her care, during a protest demanding her release in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Colombo in this July 8, 2011 file photo. Saudi Arabia beheaded the young Sri Lankan housemaid on Wednesday after rejecting appeals by her home country against her death sentence for the killing of an infant left in her care in 2005, Saudi and Sri Lankan authorities said. The Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement run by the official SPA news agency that Nafeek was executed in the town of Dawadmy, near the capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning.  -- PHOTO:REUTERS

COLOMBO - Distraught family members of a Sri Lankan maid beheaded in Saudi Arabia have asked for her remains to be flown home, a family friend said on Thursday, amid growing anger at the execution.

The family of Rizana Nafeek was in shock after hearing of Wednesday's beheading and was pleading with the authorities to bring back her body, said the friend, Mr Abdul Jihad, in the eastern village of Muttur.

"The family is completely heartbroken," Mr Jihad, 46, told AFP. "They want Rizana's body brought back, although we have been told that they have already buried her."

Mr Jihad, a science teacher at a local school who had taught Rizana, said Sri Lankan authorities had earlier raised the family's hopes with repeated appeals for clemency, the latest over the weekend by President Mahinda Rajapakse.