By Ainur Romah
The family of an Indonesian migrant worker executed in Saudi Arabia for murdering her employer’s wife say they had no knowledge of her death until they saw the news on television 24-hours later.
“It was very sudden. We had no information before,” her sister Halimah Zainab told The Anadolu Agency from her home in Bangkalan, Madura, off the northeastern coast of Java.
She said she was deeply shocked to only hear Wednesday morning of 47-year-old Siti Zainab’s beheading.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Siti’s lawyer has confirmed she was executed early Tuesday in Medina, after being convicted in 1999 of stabbing and beating Nourah Bt. Duhem Abdullah Al Maruba to death.
The beheading occurred despite pleas from Indonesian President Joko Widodo and three of his predecessors and the offer of 600,000 riyals diyat (blood money) to the victim’s family in the hope she could be saved.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Wednesday that Indonesia has protested to Saudi Arabia for not informing his government or the family of the time of execution.
Siti Zainab was jailed in Medina General Prison in Oct. 5, 1999, after being convicted of the murder of Al Maruba.
She claimed she had been mistreated since being hired, but after a series of legal proceedings, she was sentenced to death Jan. 8, 2001.
Under the terms of Qisas — retribution — forgiveness can only be given by heirs of the victim, in the case of Siti her execution postponed until the victim’s youngest son — Walid bin Abdullah bin Muhsin Al-Ahmadi — had reached the age of puberty.
In 2013, Walid told a Media court that he would not grant her clemency. She subsequently waited to die.
Siti’s son, Syarifuddin, 18, told AA on Wednesday that he hoped that his mother’s body could be returned to Indonesia, although he had little memory of her as Halimah had raised him since his she left him at the age of 5 to look for work in Saudi Arabia.
It was 13 years before he saw Siti again.
“Around two weeks ago, the Indonesia Embassy in Saudi Arabia helped me and aunt Halimah to meet her in prison,” he said.
On seeing her in Medina, he said he looked upon his mother and “it felt like the first time I was able to look into her face directly.”
“I just hope she can be returned so we can bury her body properly,” he told AA.
Siti is reported to have already been laid to rest at Al-Baqi cemetery in Medina City.
Amnesty International claimed Wednesday that her execution “smacked of a basic lack of humanity” as she was suffering “a form of mental disorder.”
It added that according to reports, police also suspected she suffered from mental illness at the time of the interrogation.
“This practice has been widely condemned on the world stage and Saudi Arabia should take this opportunity to reconsider its stance on the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director.
Other Human rights groups have used Siti’s execution to urge Indonesia to abandon its support for the death penalty.
Two Australians — Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran — are currently among 10 drug convicts due to be executed by firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan.
They were convicted in 2006 as the ringleaders of a plot to smuggle heroin out of the country. (Anadolu Agency)