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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Source: NY Times

"Genital Mutilation Hoax" Trial Opens in NY

New York, USA -- A woman given political asylum after claiming her genitals would be mutilated if she were sent back to Ghana - a tale that won her the support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Julia Roberts - is on trial for allegedly concocting the story to stay in the United States

Regina Norman Danson "abused a system that was designed to protect citizens for human-rights abuses in their native countries," Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronnie Abrams said in opening statements in Brooklyn federal court.

Danson, 33, is accused of lying to an immigration judge in 1997 when she said she was next in line to inherit her late mother's position as "queen mother" of Biriwa, Ghana - and that she would be circumcised when elders discovered she'd had premarital sex.

She also allegedly arrived in the United States with a doctored passport.

Prosecutors said Biriwa's tribal chieftain will testify that Danson was never in line to be queen mother.

Prosecutors said female genital mutilation is not practiced in the village.