Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Confusion over news Meriam Ibrahim to be freed in Sudan

Meriam and husband Daniel
Meriam and husband Daniel

There was confusion last night over whether a mother facing the death penalty in Sudan for abandoning her religious faith would be freed soon.

The case of Meriam Ibrahim sparked international condemnation from world leaders earlier this month after a Sudanese court ruled the then heavily pregnant woman would face the death penalty for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

The court ruled she was to be given 100 lashes and then hanged after she had given birth.

Ms Ibrahim (27) was brought up as an Orthodox Christian by her mother, and married a Christian, but the court ruled she should be regarded as Muslim because it had been her father's faith – a charged she denied.

"I am a Christian. I did not convert from Islam," she told the Haj Yousif court in Khartoum. In refusing to renounce her faith, her Christian marriage in 2011 was annulled and she was sentenced to death for apostasy. Sex outside a 'lawful relationship' is also regarded as adultery under Sudanese law.

Over the weekend, the BBC reported that a Sudanese foreign ministry official had said Ms Ibrahim, a doctor, who gave birth to a girl while in prison earlier this week, will be freed from custody "in a few days' time". Abdullahi Alazreg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, reportedly said that Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.

But the foreign ministry issued a clarification on Sunday, saying that only the judicial system could rule on the case.

"The defence team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict... and if the appeals court rules in her favour, she will be released," the ministry said.

Ms Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, said he had not been told anything about his wife's possible release, describing the story as rumours.

"No Sudanese or foreign mediator contacted me. Maybe there are contacts between the Sudanese government and foreign sides that I'm not aware of," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, I will wait for the appeal which my lawyer submitted, and I hope that my wife will be released."

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