Indonesia recalls ambassador over Saudi beheading

JAKARTA - Indonesia on Monday recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia amid anger over the beheading of an Indonesian maid convicted of murdering her Saudi employer, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

Riyadh carried out the execution by sword without giving Indonesia prior notice, Natalegawa told reporters after being grilled about the government's response in parliament.

"We cannot accept it and will file a strong protest to the Saudi government," he said, adding that Jakarta's ambassador had been recalled for consultations.

The woman, Ruyati binti Sapubi, was found guilty of murdering Saudi woman Khairiya bint Hamid Mijlid by striking her repeatedly on the head with a meat cleaver and stabbing her in the neck.

The migrant worker had been subjected to constant verbal abuse and refused permission to leave the kingdom, according to Indonesia's National Agency for Placement and Protection of Migrant Workers.

"In court, Ruyati confessed she killed her employer's wife after a quarrel because her request to be allowed to go home was turned down," agency chief Jumhur Hidayat told Antara news agency.

In parliament on Monday, lawmaker Teguh Juwarno called on Natalegawa to resign and said Indonesia should stop sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia in the wake of a spate of abuse cases.

"This is obviously the government's failure. I ask Minister Marty to be a gentleman and admit his failure, suspend the Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia or resign himself as a gesture of accountability," he said.

The beheading brought the number of executions in the ultra-conservative kingdom this year to 28, according to an AFP tally based on official and human rights group reports.

Around 70 percent of the 1.2 million Indonesians working in Saudi Arabia are domestic helpers, according to officials.

Indonesians were outraged in April when a Saudi court overturned the conviction of a Saudi woman who had been jailed for three years for allegedly torturing her Indonesian maid.

Sumiati binti Salan Mustapa, 23, claimed her employer beat her causing internal bleeding and broken bones, scalded her head with an iron and slashed her with scissors, leaving her horribly disfigured and traumatised.

In November last year the beaten body of another Indonesian maid, Kikim Komalasari, 36, was found near Abha. Two people, her employers, were arrested in that case.

Labour activists and rights groups have said the incidents highlight the paucity of protection for millions of mostly Asian domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

Local media reported there are 22 Indonesian migrant workers facing execution in Saudi Arabia.

London-based watchdog Amnesty International this month called on Saudi Arabia to stop applying the death penalty, saying there had been a significant rise in the number of executions carried out over the past six weeks.