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11.07.2011 General News

Nigeria movie star gets death penalty

By The Statesman
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Nigeria's final court of appeal has ruled that actress Rabi Ismail should be hanged for killing a male friend to acquire his property.

The Supreme Court upheld rulings by two lower courts that Ismail drugged and drowned Auwalu Ibrahim in 2002 in the northern city of Kano.

Ismail took part in films in the local Hausa language, and her case gripped Nigeria's entertainment industry.

No-one has been executed in Nigeria since the end of military rule in 1999. The court ruled that Ismail drugged Ibrahim with a sweet, before drowning him in a dam in Kano.

The BBC's Chris Ewokor in the capital, Abuja, says the Supreme Court's verdict is final. Ismail's lawyers have exhausted all their options to acquit her, our reporter says. The High Court and the Court of Appeal had earlier ruled that she was guilty of murder and should be executed.

She was not in court when the ruling was made and is believed to be in a prison in northern Nigeria. Our reporter says lawyers he spoke to expect the ruling to be carried though, although the Nigerian authorities have never implemented the death sentence since democratic rule was restored in 1999.

Kano has a popular film industry known as Kannywood - the Hausa-language version of Nollywood in southern Nigeria. In 2007, the state's Islamic authorities denounced the industry, saying it promoted immoral conduct.

Islamic clerics also burned copies of a film which portrayed a man who beat his wife and used prostitutes before changing his ways.

Muslims form the majority in northern Nigeria.


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