11/18/2005

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online

Mother's life is spared as leader heeds foreign pleas
By Daniel McGrory
THE life of a 21-year-old mother was spared shortly before she was due to face a firing squad yesterday as appeals by British ministers and others forced the Yemeni President to suspend the execution.

Amina al-Abduladif’s lawyer was with her in prison when the last-minute reprieve came. Shada Nasir told The Times: “She was shaking and crying. She had said her prayers and her farewells and was sure she was going to die. What we don’t know is whether the execution has been delayed for a day or a week as no one will tell us.

“She is still very frightened and confused about what happens now.”

Officials in the capital, Sanaa, said that President Saleh was “moved” when he learnt of the plight of Mrs Abduladif, who was convicted of murdering her husband when she was 16 after insisting that her confession was forced from her under torture.

The President has asked justice ministers to look again at her case while her lawyers are demanding a new trial.

For the moment Mrs Abduladif remains on death row with her two-year-old son, who was born in jail after she was allegedly raped by a prison guard. She had gone on hunger strike after a prison official told her that he had read in a newspaper that her execution date had been set for yesterday.

“I have pleaded with her to eat something and to have hope,” Mrs Nasir said. “She is very grateful for all those abroad who protested about her case. We believe it was this international intervention that saved her, as here she had become forgotten.”

Mrs Nasir hopes that the authorities will order an investigation into who raped the young mother. Prison officials only learnt of the attack when she was facing her executioners two years ago and told them that she was pregnant.

World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online

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