Rizana Nafeek, a 19-year housemaid from Sri Lanka, is on death row because the baby in her care died while she was bottle-feeding him. If her appeal is turned down, she will be taken to a public square to be publicly beheaded.
The Sri Lankan government says it is working for a reprieve, and has until Monday to file the plea. A last-minute pardon by the infant's parents could also spare her. But if her execution goes ahead, it will be the latest in a surge of beheadings that could surpass the kingdom's record of 191 in 2005.
After dropping to 38 last year, the figure for 2007 is already at least 102, including three women, according to Amnesty International.
Beheading has always been the punishment meted out to murderers, rapists, drug traffickers and armed robbers in Saudi Arabia. Whether what Nafeek did amounts to murder has never been spelled out by courts or other officials, but Saudi authorities, facing sustained criticism from foreign human rights groups, insist they are simply enforcing God's law.
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