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Amina Lawal Begins Appeal Of Death Sentence - 2003-08-27


A Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning has begun her appeal in a case that has caused an international outcry.

Amina Lawal arrived at the heavily guarded Islamic court in northern Nigeria Wednesday carrying her baby daughter, whose out-of-wedlock birth led to Ms. Lawal's adultery conviction in 2002.

She was sentenced to die by an Islamic court -- which ordered that she be buried up to her neck and stoned.

Ms. Lawal, now 31 years old, was divorced when she became pregnant -- allegedly by her ex-husband. Under Sharia -- or strict Islamic law -- having sex outside marriage is punishable by death.

She has already lost one appeal. If Ms. Lawal loses again she can take the case to a higher regional court and eventually to Nigeria's Supreme Court.

Human rights groups and opponents of Sharia law have launched international campaigns calling\ for her sentence to be lifted.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo says his government opposes stoning death sentences. It is not clear if the government is willing to intervene.

Strict Sharia law was introduced in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north three years ago.

Several defendants have successfully appealed their cases. So far, no stoning death sentence has been carried out.