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27 Aug 2003 14:30
Baby in her arms, a single mother condemned by an Islamic court to death by stoning appeared at a courthouse in northern Nigeria on Wednesday for an appeal of a sentence that has drawn an international outcry.
Amina Lawal (32) in blue and brown dress and pink veil, seemed overwhelmed at the crush of riot police and journalists. “All these cameras, all these policemen,” she said, tears in her eyes, as she made her way inside.
Thirty-five riot police ringed the courthouse, the heaviest security yet in what has been more than a year of off-and-on hearings.
Lawal was convicted in March 2002 after the birth of her girl, Wasila, out of wedlock.
An Islamic court found her guilty of adultery even though her baby was born more than two years after her divorce.
Under Islamic laws, or Shariah, adopted in a dozen predominantly Muslim northern Nigerian states, judges ordered Lawal buried up to her neck in sand and then stoned to death.
The alleged father of the baby denied responsibility and was acquitted.
Judges have postponed carrying out Lawal’s sentence until her child is weaned.
“Amina is very worried.
Officials of Katsina state have insisted the case go through the judicial appeals process despite requests by Nigeria’s federal government that Lawal be freed.
Lawal’s lawyers were due to present defence arguments at Wednesday’s hearings. It had been unclear whether the hearing would even be held.
Past hearings have repeatedly been canceled, in what some have suspected is an attempt to deflect attention following international campaigns by rights movements and women’s groups. - Sapa-AP
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