Nigerian Spared Death by Stoning
This was Lawal’s second appeal against the stoning verdict
September 25, 2003
A northern Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for committing
adultery has won her appeal against the verdict on a majority decision. Four
out of five judges rejected her conviction, saying she was not given “ample
opportunity to defend herself”.
Thirty-one-year-old Amina Lawal was convicted last year in Katsina state.
She had been found guilty under the Sharia (Islamic criminal law) which has
been introduced into 12 northern states over the last three years.
The verdict, which had been expected says the BBC’s Anna Borzello in
Katsina, was read out to a packed courtroom in the appeal court in the
northern town of Katsina.
The panel of judges said the decision to acquit Ms Lawal was based on
procedural errors at her original trial and the fact that her adultery was not
proved beyond doubt.
Ms Lawal sat throughout the verdict in the corner of the courtroom, her
face hidden by a shawl and her child on her lap.
A village woman, she had been convicted of adultery in March last year soon
after giving birth to her daughter, Wasila.
This was the second time she had appealed against her sentence of death by
stoning, with the help of two Nigeria women’s rights groups which took up
While Thursday’s ruling means Ms Lawal can go home a free woman, the
issue of Sharia and in particular Sharia punishments like flogging for
fornication and amputation for theft has not gone away, our correspondent
Shortly after the verdict, reports were coming in of a Nigerian man being
sentenced to death by stoning for sodomy after he allegedly slept with three
boys in the northern Bauchi state.
The introduction of Sharia punishment has been highly
controversial, provoking international concern abroad and sparking religious
violence within Nigeria.
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