Young woman sentenced to death by stoning in Sudan
Thu May 31, 2012 5:45pm GMT
* Woman in jail with legs shackled, activists say
* Lawyers have launched an appeal
* Previous stoning sentences were not carried out
By Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM, May 31 (Reuters) - A Sudanese woman, believed to be around 20, has
been sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery, and is being held near
Khartoum, shackled in prison with her baby son, rights groups and lawyers
said on Thursday.
Campaigners condemned the ruling, saying it violated international standards
and raised concerns that Sudan might start applying sharia, or Islamic law,
more strictly following the secession of mostly non-Muslim South Sudan last
The woman, Intisar Sharif Abdalla, was sentenced by the Ombada criminal
court on April 22, court documents seen by Reuters showed.
Two lawyers assigned to her case, who declined to be named, said they were
launching an appeal adding Abdalla appeared to be under severe psychological
"She's in dire need of a psychiatrist because she appears to be in a state
of shock from the social and family pressures she's under," one lawyer said.
Abdalla was illiterate and did not have a lawyer or interpreter in the
courtroom, although Arabic is not her native language, the lawyers and
Arabic is the main language in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, though a
wide range of smaller languages are also spoken, particularly in tribal
areas. It was unclear where Abdalla came from.
Officials in Sudan's justice and information ministries said they could not
immediately comment on the case when Reuters contacted them by phone.
Abdalla's exact age has not been confirmed, but activists said she was
believed to be around 20, although some reports indicated she could be
"The case certainly raises concerns about how judges are interpreting and
applying the laws of Sudan," Jehanne Henry, a senior research at advocacy
group Human Rights Watch, said.
Floggings are a common punishment in Sudan for crimes like drinking alcohol
and adultery. But sentences of stoning are rare.
Following a 1989 coup, Sudan introduced laws that took sharia as their main
source and hosted militants including Osama bin Laden.
While the government has since sought to improve its image internationally
by distancing itself from radical Islamists, it is still one of only a few
countries to list death by stoning in its statutes.
In 2010, Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said the country would
adopt a fully Islamic constitution following the secession of the south,
agreed under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.
Most people in South Sudan are Christian or follow traditional African
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), a network
of civil society groups, said Abdalla was still in danger despite the
"Although this appeal is in process, Intisar ostensibly remains at risk of
being stoned and in real terms, her life is still very much on the line," it
said in a statement.
In 2010, the case of Lubna Hussein, a Sudanese U.N. official, sparked
international furore when she was sentenced to flogging for wearing
Fahima Hashim, a women's rights activist following Abdalla's case, said
sentences were often inconsistent in Sudan because the legal system gave
authority to judges to decide punishments. Previous stoning sentences had
not been carried out, she said.
Hashim called for the reform of articles in Sudan's criminal code which she
said harm women's rights, including one used in Abdalla's case.
As long as this articles remained unchanged, execution by stoning would not
be out of the question, she said. "It's a threat. It could happen."
(Additional reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz)
Sudan moves to end fuel subsidies to plug budget gap
Thu May 31, 2012 1:23pm GMT
* Sudan facing economic crisis since South's secession
* High inflation increasing social pressures
* Previous attempt to end subsidies was blocked
KHARTOUM, May 31 (Reuters) - Sudan's ruling party will push forward a plan
to scrap fuel subsidies to help overcome an economic crisis and plug a
ballooning budget gap after the country lost much of its oil wealth to South
Sudan, state media said on Thursday.
The move may be highly unpopular, but the African country is struggling
financially after losing three quarters of its oil production when South
Sudan became independent last July under a 2005 peace deal that ended a
decades-long civil war.
Oil used to be the main source of Sudan's exports and state revenue as well
as a major source of dollars.
Sudan has avoided an "Arab spring" uprising, but social pressures are
increasing, with annual inflation hitting almost 29 percent in April.
Sudan has not said how much it spends on fuel subsidies, but the central
bank said last year that fuel was being sold at $60 a barrel compared with
market prices of more than $100.
The government has planned to lift subsidies before, but it is a sensitive
issue and parliament rejected a central bank plan to scrap subsidies in
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Sudan this week to take
emergency measures to overcome "daunting" challenges. Finance Minister Ali
Mahmoud said in May that Sudan needed to plug a gap in public finances that
came to $2.4 billion after the secession.
At a meeting chaired by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the ruling National
Congress Party (NCP) decided to include "a proposal to lift subsidies on
fuel in a package of economic measures" to help bridge the gap, state news
agency SUNA said.
The proposal will be presented to lawmakers and the cabinet, it added. The
NCP dominates Sudan's parliament and key ministries.
Sudan had hoped to make up for part of its lost oil revenue by charging fees
to landlocked South Sudan, which depends on Sudan's pipelines, export
terminal and other facilities.
But South Sudan shut down its entire output of 350,000 barrels a day in
January to stop Khartoum from seizing some oil to make up for what the
latter called unpaid fees. Talks have yielded little visible progress since
In September, Sudan's central bank governor asked fellow Arab countries to
deposit $4 billion with the bank and commercial lenders. Central bank
officials have been touring Gulf and other Arab countries to ask for
financial assistance. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing)
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Received on Thu May 31 2012 - 17:20:11 EDT