Nigerian Leader Says He'd Weep If Woman Is Executed for Adultery

President Is Hopeful About Court Appeal

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ABUJA, Nigeria, AUG. 26, 2002 ( President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed his sympathy for a 30-year-old woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, but he did not announce any concrete measures to save her.

The president commented for the first time on Amina Lawal’s case while attending a dinner Saturday organized by journalists.

Lawal’s death sentence was upheld Aug. 19 by the Futuna Court of Appeal in the northern state of Katsina.

Obasanjo said he was confident about the success of the defendant’s forthcoming appeal, but left open the possibility that she will in fact be stoned, despite the federal authorities’ opposition to the sentence.

«I don’t think what is going on will lead to her death,» the president said. «Indeed, if it does, which I very much doubt, I will weep for myself. I will weep for Amina, and I will weep for Nigeria.»

Obasanjo’s government declared unconstitutional the decision of 12 mainly Muslim states to reintroduce Shariah, or Islamic law, after the country’s return to civil power in 1999.

The government has sent an observer to assist the team of lawyers handling Amina Lawal’s defense.

The European Commission, the United States and numerous countries, as well as human rights groups, have protested publicly against the sentence.

Lawal was first sentenced to death on March 22 by the court of Bakori, after admitting she was expecting her third child, although she is divorced.

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