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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
Nigerian spared death by stoning
Amina Lawal
This was Lawal's second appeal against the stoning verdict
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 her case.

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 says.

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.

The BBC's Steven Cviic
"Amina Lawal arrived at the courthouse amid intense media interest"

Sex abuser faces stoning death
25 Sep 03  |  Africa
Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split
07 Jan 03  |  Africa

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