Colombo: Sri Lanka's president has appealed for clemency for a maid awaiting beheading in a Saudi Arabia prison.

A government statement said released Tuesday said President Mahinda Rajapaksa wrote to Saudi King Abdullah after a court confirmed the death sentence of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek for killing an infant five years ago.

Nafeek was first sentenced to death in 2007 sparking protests by international human rights groups that say Nafeek was a minor when the incident took place and that the infant died because of suffocation when the maid tried to bottle-feed him.

Nafeek appealed her sentence, and her parents traveled from a poor village in eastern Sri Lanka to Saudi Arabia to meet the baby's parents and ask for a pardon. But they were refused a meeting.