Judgment in Lawal Case Due Sept. 25
A decision in the case involving Amina Lawal, a Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock, will be handed down on September 25. Yesterday, five judges of the Sharia Court of Appeal in Katsina heard eight hours of testimony. "Unfortunately, this case keeps getting adjourned, which adds to the ordeal of Amina Lawal and her son who have not been able so far to lead a normal life," Amnesty International said in a press release.
During the trial, Lawal's attorney Aliyu Musa Yawuri charged that her client's first trial by a lower Sharia court was unfair, using testimony from a questionable witness and issuing judgment from only one magistrate when the law mandates three. Moreover, Yawuri argued Lawal was impregnated prior to sharia (Islamic) law taking effect in Katsina. Previously, the penal law issued a prison sentence as punishment for "adultery."
Court officials of the Katsina state of Nigeria have insisted that the case go through judicial appeals despite several requests by the Nigeria's federal government to have Amina Lawal freed, according to the New York Times.
Northern Nigerian Islamic Court sentenced Amina Lawal, a single mother, to death by stoning for having sex out of wedlock on March 22, 2002. After a lower Islamic court in the Katsina state rejected Lawal's appeal to the death by stoning sentence, Lawal's lawyers appealed to the state court. Sharia law was established in northern Nigeria's mostly Muslim state Zamfara in 2000 and has spread to at least twelve other states since then. Under sharia law, pregnancy outside of marriages constitutes sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery.
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Media Resources: This Day 8/28/03; Le Nouvel Observateur 8/27/03; Amnesty International 8/27/03; Feminist Daily News Wire