Skip to main content

Saudi national handed death penalty for murder of Bangladeshi woman

Abiron Begum Ansar was beaten to death by her employers in Riyadh
Ansar's family said her body was 'unrecognisable' when it was repatriated back to Bangladesh seven months after her murder (Supplied)

A criminal court in Riyadh on Sunday handed a Saudi national the death penalty for the murder of a Bangladeshi domestic worker, in a rare trial exposing the abuse of migrant workers in the kingdom. 

Abiron Begum Ansar, a 40-year-old domestic worker, was found dead in Riyadh in March 2019 after being beaten to death by her employers. 

Her family said Ansar's body was "unrecognisable" when it was repatriated back to Bangladesh seven months later.  

'Her body was so horrible that we could not look at it' 

Ayub Ali, Ansar's brother-in-law

The Riyadh Criminal Court found Ayesha al-Jazani guilty of Ansar's murder and gave her the death penalty after it had been requested by the Ansar's family. 

It also found Jazani's husband, Bassem Salem, guilty of tampering with the crime scene, sending Ansar to work for other people and not paying for her medical care. He was given a 38-month prison sentence and a 50,000 Saudi riyal fine.

Walid Basem Salem, Jazani's son, was given a seven-month sentence inside a juvenile detention facility. 

During a hearing in January, Ansar's family had requested the death penalty for Jazani instead of financial compensation. 

Documents seen by Middle East Eye show that the family asked the Bangladeshi embassy in Riyadh to request the death penalty as part of the qisas legal rules in Saudi Arabia. 

Qisas, which can be translated as an "eye for an eye", gives the family of a murder victim the right to ask for compensation from the perpetrators or the death penalty.

Prolonged torture 

Ansar moved to Saudi Arabia in 2017 to work as a domestic worker in the Salem family's home of eight people.

Saudi Arabia executes Indonesian maid who killed man she says assaulted her
Read More »

Ansar's family said she complained that her employer poured hot water on her and pushed the Bangladeshi woman's face against a metal grill as a form of punishment. 

According to official figures, over the last five years, at least 200 domestic workers have been returned dead to Bangladesh from Saudi Arabia.

Ansar's body was only repatriated after the family sought help from local NGOs.

Ayub Ali, Ansar's brother-in-law, told the Daily Star in Bangladesh that her body "was so horrible that we could not look at it".

"We want harsh punishment for the killers, no compromises so that no more people die a death like Abiron's," said Ali.