Indonesia to Pay $1.87m to Save Maid From Death Row in Saudi Arabia

Indonesian maids raise their hands during a police check on the eligibility of the workers' status to work abroad at a shelter in Bekasi on June 22, 2011. (AFP Photo/Adek Berry).

An Indonesian maid sentenced to death for killing her employer may be spared the executioner’s sword in Saudi Arabia after the central government pays the deceased’s family some $1.87 million in blood money, a migrant protection agency official said on Monday.

“Our lawyer and the victim’s family have been discussing the ‘diyat’ [monetary compensation] and the decision will come out in August,” said Jumhur Hidayat, chief of the Migrant Worker Placement and Protection Agency (BNP2TKI).

Maid Satinah Binti Jumadi Ahmad, of Ungaran, Central Java, is facing the death penalty for murdering her employer Nura al-Garib and fleeing with $10,000 of the victim’s cash in 2007.

Satinah has admitted to killing al-Garib, but said it was an accident. The maid claimed that al-Garib was trying to hit her head against a wall when she struck the victim in the neck with a rollingpin. Satinah claimed the blow was in self-defense, citing months of physical and verbal abuse.

The Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh has been fighting for Satinah’s pardon since 2007, approaching the victim’s family to negotiate the payment of a diyat for their pardon — a common practice in Saudi Arabia.

The king agreed to postpone Satinah’s execution in 2010 to allow the government to purchase a pardon from the victim’s family. The family reportedly requested $2.67 million in 2011, but the two parties have since agreed on a payment of $1.87 million, Jumhur said.

The negotiations are almost complete, he said.

“We will do our best to save her,” Jumhur said.

At least 1.5 million Indonesian migrant workers are living in the oil-rich kingdom, most working as laborers or domestic maids, BNP2TKI said. Claims of abuse and withheld pay are common among Indonesian maids working in Saudi Arabia.

In 2012, there were 420 Indonesians on death row worldwide, including 45 in Saudi Arabia, according to Migrant Care.

An Indonesian maid named Ruyati was beheaded on June 18, 2011 for killing her employer with a meat cleaver. The execution prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lodge a complaint with the Saudi government, claiming Indonesian officials were not notified before the execution.

The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration responded by issuing a two-year moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia in 2011. The moratorium is scheduled to end this August.

  • TGIF

    Hello why wouldn’t it be any different here in Indonesia with the religious zealots claiming to be the victims each time they create violence toward innocent people…
    If a person has money, they can control,and treat people like slaves…

  • Roland

    Whose money is this $1.87 million? Tax payers money? Or does it come from some private stash or donations? So, after the money is paid (BTW quite a way to make money – although for a sad case, I admit) she’s going to be a free person, or does she still have to stay in jail for the fact that she actually murdered someone and got convicted for that (plus stole money – at least according to this report)?

  • Adi

    The Creator created precious humans and loves all of them. Humans place a monetary price on themselves for their own gain. Very sad…..

  • Plaza Hotel

    Compared to the money BNP2TKI collects from Indonesian migrant workers, this amount is just nothing…

  • TGIF

    Yes Roland I do…pretty sad. Well in the case of a Western court that would be paying for damages because the family of the victim may sue the accused. The accused however may still go to jail or be released depending on the seriousness of the case and enough evidence to support it. The accused however may still have to pay the victim’s relatives.

  • Pelan2

    Yes. This is the first country in history that is being colonized by its own citizens?? Amazing Indonesia..