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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Muslim Mother Set Free

Aired September 25, 2003 - 06:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got some breaking news now out of Nigeria. We've heard the sentencing of a woman who was being accused of having a baby out of wedlock, a crime there.
Jeff Koinange has the very latest for us now from the court. He's on the telephone -- Jeff, what happened?

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Carol.

I'm just walking, literally walking out of the courtroom right now and we just heard a few moments ago that the chief, the grand khadi, the main judge who was hearing this appeal, he has set Amina Lawal free. The woman who's been on death row for the last two years has been set free, according to the chief khadi here in the courtroom, the court of appeals in Katsina.

Carol, these are preliminary reports right now. And we hear a lot of commotion in the courtroom. That's how, I quickly had to come out. But people are coming out and they're saying, "She's been freed," "she's been freed." I'm going to try and get more information as it comes through. But it looks like the woman's ordeal has finally come to an end -- Carol.

LIN: That's good news, Jeff.

I'm wondering, do you know on what basis the court made its decision?

KOINANGE: Well, the last time that they came to this hearing, about a month ago, it was the technicality that the defense lawyers put through and this was basically that sharia law in this state of Katsina was imposed three months after Amina Lawal was pregnant. So the lawyers were arguing the fact that she was already pregnant and then they brought in sharia law. They are not against sharia law, but there was this technicality in this case in that she was already pregnant.

I think that was the basis of their argument. I think that's what won it through. We're going to get more information as it comes through in the coming, in literally in the coming minutes -- Carol.

LIN: All right, I know. I want to let you go so you can cover the story. But, Jeff, can you describe the scene around the courthouse? What's the reaction been to the sentencing, or to her release?

KOINANGE: Very subdued, actually, Carol. I can tell you, extremely subdued. Obviously, it's only men who come to the courtroom and sharia law is very male oriented, male dominated, so there are no women around here. There are no protest groups, although there is a heavy, heavy police presence with everything from assault rifles to anti-riot gear.

So very, subdued in this very extremely hot African sun right now, Carol. But I can tell you, no celebrations, no ululations, nothing right now. It's very subdued. But inside there's a bit of commotion. I'm going to go back in and see what the commotion is all about -- Carol.

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Jeff Koinange, for breaking away from the story to give us this breaking news.

Once again, the woman, the Nigerian woman accused and sitting on death row for the last two years for having a child out of wedlock has been set free by the court there.

Jeff Koinange working that story and we're going to bring you more details as soon as he gets them.

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