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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 21:42 GMT
Nigeria's 'adulteress' set free
Sharia punishments include amputations and flogging
An Islamic court in the northern Nigerian state of Sokoto has acquitted a women accused of having sex outside marriage, in the second such case since the introduction of full Islamic law there.

The judge said there were discrepancies in the evidence against the 18-year-old, Hafsatu Abubakar, which had raised doubts about the case.

Safiya Husaini
Safiya Husaini is waiting for her appeal against the death sentence
Hafsatu Abubakar, who is divorced, was accused by neighbours after she gave birth to a child several weeks ago.

She and the baby have been held in prison pending the trial.

When the judgement was announced on Wednesday afternoon, there were cheers from about 500 supporters who attended the court session.

Speaking to reporters outside the court house Hafsatu expressed her deep gratitude to God, who, she said, had given her strength through the trying period.

There was an international outcry against Nigeria over the case of another woman in Sokoto, Safiya Husaini, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, a verdict that she has appealed against.

Under a revised Sharia criminal code recently introduced in the mainly Muslim states of northern Nigeria, the punishment for adultery is either death by stoning or flogging, depending on whether or not the woman is married.

The death sentence is used for married women who have sex with a man other than their husband.

See also:

14 Sep 01 | Africa
Nigerian sentenced to stoning
09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
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