Maldives annuls death by stoning sentence for woman

  • Published
File photo: The island of Dunikolu in the Republic of Maldives in the Indian Ocean. 2010Image source, Science Photo Library
Image caption,
The Islamic archipelago has a population of about 400,000

The Maldives' top court has overturned a sentence of death by stoning issued to a woman found guilty of adultery, local media report.

The woman, who reportedly gave birth out of wedlock, was convicted by a magistrate's court on Sunday.

However, the Supreme Court quashed the sentence late on Sunday, saying the ruling had violated legal procedures.

The island nation has previously issued flogging sentences to those convicted of extramarital sex.

Sunday's initial sentence had sparked outrage on social media and was criticised by rights groups.

The sentence to death by stoning was unprecedented in the country, which is known as a luxury tourist destination, the BBC's South Asia editor Charles Haviland reports.

In 2013, the case of a 15-year-old girl sentenced to 100 lashes after being found guilty of premarital sex prompted global concern. The High Court later overturned the verdict, saying she had been wrongly convicted.

Extramarital sex is illegal in the Maldives, although the ban does not apply to tourists.

What's not on the tourist brochure?

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Former President Mohamed Nasheed is in jail after being ousted in 2012 in what his allies say was a coup

The Maldives attracted more than a million tourists in 2013 - but most foreign visitors are insulated from everyday life on the islands.

Lesser-known facts about the nation include:

  • The Maldives hosted peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in 2010 - although some delegates were uncomfortable with the bikinis on display.
  • There are concerns about Islamist extremism, with reports of some locals travelling to Syria to fight for militant groups.
  • The country's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, has been jailed for 13 years under anti-terrorism laws - with the UN expressing concerns over his trial and calling for his release.
  • Unemployment is high - estimated at 28% - and drug abuse has increased in recent years.
  • Homosexual relations are illegal, and the UK foreign office has warned that offenders could face lengthy prison sentences and fines.
Image source, STR
Image caption,
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (centre) is representing Mr Nasheed