A 40-year prison sentence for murder was required Friday in a Salvadoran court against a young woman who lost her baby, and the verdict is due Monday.

The anti-abortion legislation in El Salvador is one of the strictest in the world. The Penal Code provides for a sentence of between two and eight years in prison for abortion cases, but in fact the judges consider any loss of the baby as an "aggravated homicide", punishable by 30 to 50 years of imprisonment.

Evelyn Hernandez, now 21 but a teenager at the time, has protested her innocence at the start of the trial on Thursday. The baby was stillborn, she always explained. She had already been sentenced in July 2017 to 30 years in prison but the decision was annulled in February by the Supreme Court, after 33 months spent behind bars.

Accused homicide aggravated by negligence

For this second trial, the Salvadoran public prosecutor's office changed her charge: Evelyn Hernandez is no longer charged with aggravated homicide with premeditation but negligent homicide.

"To ask 40 years of prison, it is a real madness, it is a legal aberration", indignant Morena Herrera, coordinator of the Salvadoran ONG ACDATEE which militates for the decriminalization of the abortion.

"We hope for a verdict of acquittal: there is no evidence to suggest that Evelyn intended to end the baby's life ... it was an accident," Arnau said. Baulenas, one of the accused's lawyers.

16 women are in jail in El Salvador for abortions

The case dates back to April 6, 2016, when the young woman gives birth to a baby in a toilet. Transferred to the hospital of the city of Cojutepeque (center), she was arrested and accused of homicide, said her lawyer Elizabeth Deras to AFP.

Initially it was reported that Evelyn Hernandez became pregnant after a rape, but her lawyer explained, without giving more details, prefer not to mention these circumstances at the request of the young woman who lives in a neighborhood gang-controlled and may be subject to retaliation.

To the cries of "Freedom for Evelyn!" and "Down with patriarchy!", about 50 women's rights activists protested in the court of Ciudad Delgado, northeast of San Salvador, the capital.

Currently, 16 women are in prison in El Salvador for abortions. In recent months, five women sentenced for similar cases have been released.