Nigerian Death-Sentence Alarms European Union

Out-of-Wedlock Mother Faces Stoning

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, AUG. 20, 2002 ( The European Union’s head office said it was concerned by an Islamic court decision in Nigeria to sentence a single mother to be stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock.

EU spokesman Michael Curtis told reporters today that the EU would launch appeals against the Nigerian government to try to overturn the sentence of 30-year-old Amina Lawal Kurami, the Associated Press reported.

«Our opposition to the death penalty is clear,» Curtis said.

The court said Lawal should be executed by stoning after January 2004, when she will have weaned her baby, Wasila. After the verdict was read, the public attending the hearing cried «Allah is great,» while the condemned woman broke out in tears.

Lawal was first sentenced in March after giving birth more than nine months after divorcing. The baby’s father was exonerated by the court for «lack of evidence.»

An Islamic court of appeal at Funtua, in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state, threw out Lawal’s appeal Monday. Her conviction was upheld on the basis that she admitted to having sex outside marriage.

The introduction of Islamic law, or Shariah, in a dozen northern states in Nigeria since 1999 has sparked clashes between the country’s Christians and Muslims.

Lawal is the second Nigerian woman to be condemned to death under Islamic law for having sex out of wedlock. The first woman, Safiya Hussaini, had her sentence overturned in March on her first appeal.

Her lawyers said they would appeal her case before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

On several occasions, representatives of the Catholic Church in Nigeria have publicly stated their opposition to the enforcement of Islamic law in the north.

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