AL AYN, United Arab Emirates — A teen-age Philippine maid who said she killed her employer because he tried to rape her was saved from a firing squad Saturday after the victim's family settled for blood money.
An Islamic court revoked the sentence Saturday after the Emirates' president, Sheik Zayed ibn Sultan al Nuhayan, intervened in the case. Islamic law allows the family of a murder victim to spare the life of the killer.
"He who forgives someone in Islam is rewarded by God," said an official of the Emirates who asked to remain anonymous.
The official added that the blood money was worth $41,000.
Last month, the maid, 16-year-old Sarah Balabagan, was sentenced to death by a no-jury Islamic court for premeditated murder. It rejected her plea that she stabbed 85-year-old Almas Mohammed al Baloushi 34 times in self-defense during what she said was a rape.
The children of the victim had demanded Balabagan's execution for the June, 1994, stabbing, but the court announced Saturday that they had changed their minds.
The case has gained wide publicity in the Philippines, where the government has been anxious to avoid a repeat of a diplomatic row over the execution of a Philippine maid in Singapore in March.
Balabagan's appeal hearing was opened Monday when she repeated that she had killed Baloushi in self-defense.
Official sources said Saturday's development did not mean that the case was closed, but they said the appeal's next scheduled hearing on Oct. 30 could be moved up to end the case quickly.
Balabagan might now go free because the 14 months she has spent in jail so far could be regarded by the court as time served for the crime, the sources said.
Balabagan had initially been sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $41,000 in blood money at an earlier trial in June. The court then also concluded that she had been raped.
But that verdict was overturned and a retrial was ordered by the government following protests in the Philippines and calls for her execution by the victim's family.
Philippine Embassy officials had said that Balabagan's parents, who arrived in the United Arab Emirates before her appeal hearing, were willing to meet Baloushi's seven children to ask for forgiveness.
It was not known whether a meeting had taken place.