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Jeff Koinange: Woman appeals death by stoning

CNN correspondent Jeff Koinange
CNN correspondent Jeff Koinange

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KATSINA, Nigeria (CNN) -- A Nigerian court postponed an appeal on Tuesday by 30-year-old mother Amina Lawal, the woman facing a sentence of death by stoning for having a baby out of wedlock.

The Islamic court said it would delay the hearing until a later date; but it reassured her the appeal would be heard before the sentence was carried out.

CNN correspondent Jeff Koinange is in Nigeria covering the case, and talked with CNN anchor Carol Costello before the postponement.

KOINANGE: ... It is D-Day for Amina Lawal. But the D right now stands for delay, as this court case was supposed to start an hour and a half ago. But the principals have yet to arrive. I'm talking about the judges. I'm talking about the prosecution and the defense. And Amina Lawal still hasn't arrived.

But as someone commented to me a couple of minutes ago, we've waited a couple of hours for this. Amina Lawal's life has been on hold for more than a year.

As you recall, Carol, she was convicted of having a child out of wedlock over a year ago, but because her child was too young, she was able to get time off to wean the child for about a year and a half and that conviction date was set for August 25, 2003, which means it's less than three months away. That's why these appeals are very, very important.

If the court does uphold the appealing ... she can, indeed, go one more step. But it will set a dangerous precedent because there are others behind her. There are other court cases behind her, people waiting to be convicted. And one of these days you know that Shariah [Islamic law] courts will carry out one of their sentences in one way or another.

COSTELLO: Jeff, this case has gotten so much international attention. I think I've read about it in just about every American women's magazine. Is this going to help her case, this intense international attention?

KOINANGE: Carol, you won't believe the amount of publicity this case has generated. Who knew Amina Lawal about a year ago, let alone Nigeria? Not the whole world. Now it's on just about everyone's lips, just as you say. And that has helped a lot. People now, when they hear Amina Lawal, they say, 'Oh, the stoning case. How could such a thing happen in this day and age? It is so barbaric.' So many comments we hear on a day-to-day basis because of the pressure from human rights groups, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], you know, people in various positions of power. And that has certainly helped a lot. And {the appeal} will determine whether this case will go on or whether she will win.

As you recall, about two years ago another woman was sentenced to death by stoning in the northern state of Sokuto. She was released because of international pressure.


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