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Nigerian Woman Sentenced to Death by Stoning

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Nigerian Mother Loses Appeal Against Stoning Death

August 19, 2002 10:18 AM ET Email this article Printer friendly version

By Camillus Eboh

FUNTUA, Nigeria (Reuters) - An Islamic court in northern Nigeria ruled Monday that a woman must face death by stoning according to Muslim law for having a child outside marriage.

The decision, upholding a verdict by a lower court, looks set to re-ignite international outrage against Nigeria and could stoke sectarian tensions in the country's largely Islamic north.

The judge said the stoning would not be carried out until Amina Lawal Kurami, 31, had weaned her eight-month-old daughter Wasila, which may not be for another two years.

Holding the baby in her arms, Kurami remained calm as the verdict was announced and was quickly whisked away by her lawyers who said they would appeal against the decision.

"We hereby uphold the judgement of the (lower) Bakori sharia court that decreed that you be sentenced to death by stoning," said court president Abdullahi Aliyu Katsina, to chants of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) from the largely male audience.

Kurami was sentenced to death in March by a lower court in her state of Katsina, which like a number of others in northern Nigeria has adopted Islamic sharia law.

In June, a regional appeals court in Funtua gave her a two-year reprieve to wean her child.

Kurami is the second woman to be sentenced to death for bearing a child outside marriage since 2000, when the first of about a dozen states adopted the strict sharia code.

In March, an appeals court quashed a similar sentence on Safiya Hussaini Tungar-Tudu and acquitted her after the European Union led worldwide appeals for clemency. President Olusegun Obasanjo also warned Nigeria risked international isolation over the case.

The introduction of sharia law has been controversial in the north of Nigeria, where more than 3,000 people have died in Muslim-Christian clashes in the past three years.

FRESH APPEAL PLANNED

The judge, who took one hour to read the verdict on behalf of four other colleagues, said the sentence would not be carried out until Kurami weans her child. Lawyers estimate this would be sometime in 2004.

The judges based their decision mainly on what they said was a confession to adultery by Kurami, a divorcee, in the lower court trial.

Defense lawyers who earlier spoke confidently of overturning the lower court's sentence, immediately served notice they would appeal. They whisked away Kurami, watched by some 20 heavily armed police officers guarding the court.

"We are not satisfied with the judgement and are going to appeal," defense lawyer Aliyu Musa Yauri told reporters.

The defense has 30 days to take the case to the regional sharia appeals court.

In the capital Abuja Sunday, Kurami said she had left her fate in God's hands.

"God is in control. I believe he will vindicate me," Kurami told Reuters, before she was driven to Funtua for the judgement.

Kurami's lawyers say she has fainted repeatedly and been taken to hospital in the past days after making the six-hour journey from her village near Katsina to Abuja.

"She arrived completely exhausted," her lawyer, Hauwa Ibrahim, told Reuters Sunday.

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i understand the nigerian people desire to bring a reduction of crime through sharia. the crime rate in nigeria is unbelievable, especially under the military government. so i can see it from their side. however, stoning women because she had an "adulturous" affair is just inhumane.

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