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Maldives top court quashes death by stoning verdict for adultery

It was the second time a woman was sentenced to death by stoning in the Maldives.



The Supreme Court has overturned a death by stoning verdict handed by an island magistrate court to a woman found guilty of having extramarital sex.

The Naifaru magistrate court’s trial and sentencing violated the provision of the 2014 sex crimes law cited by the Prosecutor General’s office in charging the woman, the apex court ruled Monday, a day after the verdict was delivered by Magistrate Sheikh Mohamed Moosa.

It was the second time a woman was sentenced to death by stoning in the Maldives.

The first verdict handed by the Gemanafushi magistrate court in October 2015 to a woman charged with birth out of wedlock was quashed by the Supreme Court on the same day.

Under the penal code that came into force in mid-2015, unlawful sexual intercourse carries a jail sentence of between six months to two year depending on the marital status of the offender. A judge is also given the discretion to order 100 lashes in public for premarital sex.

But the death by stoning verdict was issued under section 1,205 of the penal code, which was amended to state that Islamic Shariah punishments must be meted out to persons found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing a crime for which punishment is prescribed in the Shariah “even if it is stated otherwise in this law”.

The penal code previously only allowed punishments prescribed in the Holy Quran. There is no reference to stoning in the Quran.

But ‘Holy Quran’ was replaced with ‘Islamic Shariah’ in section 1,205. The Shariah encompasses both the Quran and the Prophet’s sunnah (teachings or traditions).

Aside from flogging for pre-marital sex, several punishments fixed in the Quran and Sunnah such as amputation of the hand for theft, death by stoning for adultery, death for highway robbery, and death or banishment for apostasy are not enforced in the Maldives.