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Verdict for Salvadoran woman accused of killing stillborn expected next week

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Verdict for Salvadoran woman accused of killing stillborn expected next week
Evelyn Hernandez, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for a suspected abortion, leaves after a hearing in Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador August 16, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas   -   Copyright  JOSE CABEZAS(Reuters)
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CIUDADDELGADO, El Salvador (Reuters) – The verdict in a retrial of a Salvadoran woman convicted of aggravated homicide after a stillbirth is expected on Monday, the woman’s lawyer said on Friday, in a closely watched case that could overturn a 30-year prison sentence.

Defendant Evelyn Hernandez, 21, has already served three years of the three-decade sentence handed down after prosecutors said she had induced an abortion.

El Salvador bans abortion in all circumstances.

“We are done with the trial and we are only waiting for the ruling on Monday,” said Hernandez’s lawyer, Bertha de Leon. “We’re hopeful that… we will have a ruling absolving Evelyn and that she will be able to continue with her life in absolute liberty,” the lawyer added.

Any intentional termination of a pregnancy in El Salvador can be prosecuted as a crime, including stillbirths due to home delivery or abortions induced because of medical emergencies.

Some 147 Salvadoran women were sentenced to up to 40 years in prison in such cases between 2000 and 2014, according to the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a local rights group.

“I’m positive this is going to turn out all right,” said Hernandez, who had previously said she was unaware of her pregnancy after she was raped by a gang member.

The retrial adjourned without a verdict on Thursday.

In February, the Supreme Court ordered Hernandez released and retried because the original judge’s decision was based on prejudice and insufficient evidence.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; writing by Anthony Esposito; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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