Indonesian government pays ‘blood money’ to save maid convicted in Saudi Arabia

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JAKARTA (BNO NEWS) — The Indonesian government paid Rp 4.6 billion ($534,000) in ‘blood money’ to stop the execution of an Indonesian maid convicted of murder in Saudi Arabia, the Jakarta Globe reported on Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said that the compensation, or diyat, to spare the life of Darsem has been paid by officials from the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh. The funds were taken from the Foreign Ministry’s protection budget and transferred to the embassy ahead of the July 7 deadline.


Darsem, from Subang, West Java, was convicted in May 2009 and sentenced to death despite her plea that she had killed the victim in self-defense because he had attempted to rape her. In January, the victim’s family forgave Darsem and agreed to spare her if she could afford to pay the compensation.

Tene said the Riyadh local administration will review Darsem’s case and decide whether she should serve a prison term or be exonerated.

“If she has to serve more time in prison, there is a possibility to appeal for clemency from the king [King Abdullah],” Michael said.  

The Indonesian government on Thursday called for clemency for 23 nationals facing death penalty in Saudi Arabia following the execution of a migrant worker on June 18.

Ruyati binti Satubi was executed after a court found her guilty of murdering the wife of a Saudi businessman. The Indonesian woman worked as a housekeeper and confessed killing her employer after a fight.

The family of Ruyati said it planned to sue the Indonesian government for its lack of legal assistance, but Coordinating Public Welfare Minister Agung Laksono said the government lacked options since Ruyati had confessed to the murder.

The government also announced that it will temporarily halt sending labor workers to Saudi Arabia as of August 1.

Since January, government officials have tightened regulations regarding labor workers being sent out to Saudi Arabia by increasing requirements to select possible employers, including documents that prove the employers’ good conduct, a house map, details and pictures of family members, opening communication access, and offering a minimum wage of 11,000 reals ($2,900).

The tightening has drastically affected job orders from the Middle Eastern country dropping from an average of 1,000 each day to just five in the past five months.

Currently, 22 out of 316 Indonesians in Saudi Arabia are involved in legal cases that could lead to execution by beheading.

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