April 30, 2005

Mother, 21, faces firing squad
By Daniel McGrory
Leaders plead for a woman who denies murder and says a rapist prison guard
fathered her son



EUROPEAN leaders are making desperate pleas to spare the life of a
21-year-old mother who is expected to face a firing squad in Yemen on
Monday.
The lawyer for Amina Ali Abduladif will visit her in prison today to break
the news that her execution is imminent.


Mrs Abduladif was spared two years ago when she was facing her executioners
and told them she was pregnant after being raped by a prison guard. But her
lawyer, Shada Nasir, told The Times: "Now that her son has reached his
second birthday the law here says the death sentence should be carried out.
"I don't know how I am going to tell her."
Mrs Nasir said the authorities had also told her to remove the boy from the
Sanaa women's prison as his mother was due to be taken back to her home
village to face execution.
International pressure is mounting on Yemen to halt what Amnesty
International has called "a barbaric sentence". The Foreign and Commonwealth
Office said: "We are well aware of this case and the EU is urgently
discussing the matter with a number of ministers in Yemen."
Mrs Abduladif was convicted of murdering her husband when she was 16 and the
mother of two daughters. There was no forensic science or other evidence and
prosecutors in her home town, Mahaweet, relied on her confession which she
says was tortured out of her.
Until now she has refused to identify the guard who raped her for fear of
reprisals.
"She is in a terrible state after spending five years in prison with a death
sentence hanging over her, and now I have to take her son away from her and
cannot accompany her on her last journey which she will travel alone," Mrs
Nasir said.
Her parents will not be allowed to see her.
Witnesses say her husband was killed by his cousin in a land dispute in
January 1998 but their evidence was not presented to the court during Mrs
Abduladif's trial in May 1999.
She gave birth to her son in jail but Amnesty and other human rights groups
have complained that she has been allowed to see little of her other
children. The youngest girl was killed recently in a car crash.
Her lawyers say none of her family are willing to look after her son because
of the shame of her being raped.
"I will have to take the boy to a safe house in Sanaa while we argue for a
last-minute act of clemency," Mrs Nasir said.
Only the direct intervention of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemen President, can
spare Mrs Abduladif.
Yemen has become a close ally of the White House in the War on Terror, and
British companies are among those that are being urged to invest in the
country.
British ministers have joined politicians from European capitals urging
clemency.
Kate Allen, Amnesty Inter0national's British director, said that "with Amina
the case for commuting the death penalty is stronger than ever".