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Lanka writes to Saudi over beheading of fourth accused

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has written to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry over the execution of fourth accused Shamila Sangeeth Kumara, whose sentence was to be just 15 years in prison, not death.

Foreign Ministry sources said that according to the correspondence received by the Sri Lankan mission in Saudi Arabia earlier, Sangeeth Kumara was to be sentenced for 15 years on charges of robbery.

Instead he was beheaded along with the three others, Victor Corea, Ranjith Silva and Sanath Pushpakumara. Expressing concern, the Government has asked for reasons for changing his first sentence.

These workers were convicted in a Saudi Arabian court for an armed robbery committed in October 2004. Their deaths sparked reactions from the international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, which called on the Saudi authorities to abolish the death sentence.

The court also ruled that the bodies of the four workers be exposed for public view as an example for others.

The Foreign Ministry is also tapping diplomatic channels to get the bodies of the executed workers down to be handed over to their bereaved families.

Saudi legal authorities are not reported to have released bodies of persons executed for crimes in the past, the sources said.

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