A Saudi mother is expected to appeal a judge's ruling after he once again refused to let her 8-year-old daughter divorce a 47-year-old man, a relative said.
Sheikh Habib Al-Habib made the ruling Saturday in the Saudi city of Onaiza. Late last year, he rejected a petition to annul the marriage.
The case, which has drawn criticism from local and international rights groups, came to light in December when Al-Habib declined to annul the marriage on a legal technicality. His dismissal of the mother's petition sparked outrage and made headlines around the world.
The judge said the mother, who is separated from the girl's father, was not the legal guardian and therefore could not represent her daughter, the mother's lawyer, Abdullah al-Jutaili, said at the time.
The girl's husband pledged not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, according to al-Jutaili, who added that the girl's father arranged the marriage to settle his debts with the man, who is considered "a close friend."
In March, an appeals court in the Saudi capital of Riyadh declined to certify the original ruling, in essence rejecting al-Habib's verdict, and sent the case back to al-Habib for reconsideration.
Under the Saudi legal process, the appeals court ruling meant that the marriage was still in effect, but that a challenge to the marriage was still ongoing.
The relative, who said the girl's mother will continue to pursue a divorce, told CNN the judge "stuck by his earlier verdict and insisted that the girl could petition the court for a divorce once she reached puberty."
The appeals court in Riyadh will take up the case again and a hearing is scheduled for next month, according to the relative.
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