A Saudi couple from Tabuk have met the Indonesian domestic helper they pardoned after she was sentenced to death for murdering their 11-month-old child in 2009.
Ghalib Nasir Al-Hamri Al-Balawi and his wife arrived in Indonesia on May 3 for a week-long stay, which included a visit to Cirebon in West Java to meet Masamah bint Raswa Sanusi and her family.
“I didn’t seek for anything else by giving her pardon but God’s mercy,” Al-Balawi said through a translator during a press conference at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Jakarta on Monday.
He said that he was very impressed with the hospitality showed by Indonesia during their first visit to the country.
Arief Hidayat, an official from the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Protection of Indonesian Citizens Abroad, said that the couple’s visit was facilitated by the Indonesian Consulate General in Jeddah in appreciation of the couple’s compassion and willingness to forgive Masamah.
“We took them to Cirebon by train and they were greeted by the acting Cirebon district head upon arrival,” Hidayat said, adding that they also took the couple to the safari park in Cisarua in the mountainous Puncak area, a popular destination for tourists from Middle Eastern countries.
Masamah’s lengthy trial began in 2009 after local authorities accused her of murdering Al-Balawi’s child after they found her fingerprints on the baby’s face.
Masamah has always maintained her innocence and said that she only rubbed the baby’s face after she found it unconscious. She was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 but the district attorney appealed and she was sentenced to death in 2016.
During her appeal trial in March 2017, Al-Balawi pardoned her and decided not to demand blood money, but Masamah still had to serve the remaining two and a half years of her prison sentence.
She was released from prison in January and stayed at the consulate general’s shelter until she was cleared to leave and return to Indonesia in March.
Al-Balawi and his wife’s visit came after the execution of an Indonesian national who had been working as a driver, Muhammad Zaini Misrin on March 18 after a court has found him guilty of murdering his employer in 2005. The news of Misrin’s execution caused a national outrage.
The Indonesian government said they didn’t received notification prior to his execution and said that the execution was untimely as Misrin was undergoing another legal avenue to have his case reviewed.
Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Osamah bin Mohammad Al-Shuaibi said the Saudi authorities had done their part to inform the Indonesian embassy about Misrin’s execution including a notification on the day of the execution before it was carried out.
“What we need to do now is inform those who want to visit Saudi Arabia about the law and that they have to follow the rules in Saudi Arabia. It is our duty to explain to them,” Al Shuaibi said.
“We have to respect the laws in our respective countries,” he added.
Hidayat said there are 20 Indonesians on death row in Saudi prisons and Indonesian officials in Saudi Arabia were making sure that their legal rights were met.
“But it would not annul the crimes that they committed,” he added.
This article has been expanded from its original version in Arab News