Sri Lankan woman held for witchcraft

Thu, Apr 19, 2012, 01:00

A Sri Lankan woman has been arrested on suspicion of casting a spell on a 13-year-old girl during a Saudi family’s shopping trip, a police spokesman said yesterday, and may face death in a country where convicted sorcerers are beheaded.

The spokesman confirmed that details of the woman’s arrest published in local media were correct. The daily Okaz reported that a Saudi man had complained his daughter had “suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, and that happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman” in a large shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah.

“He reported her to the security forces, asking for her arrest, and the specialised units dealt with the situation swiftly and succeeded in arresting her,” Okaz reported.

Saudi Arabia, a US ally, is an absolute monarchy that has no written criminal code and where court rulings are based on judges’ interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. “The punishment is always beheading for anyone found guilty of witchcraft,” a Saudi lawyer and human rights activist, Waleed Abu al-Khair, said. – (Reuters)