Sudan woman’s apostasy death sentence ‘depends on appeal’

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag. (AFP)

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag. (AFP)

KHARTOUM: Sudan said the release of a Sudanese mother, whose death sentence for refusing to recant her Christian faith sparked global criticism, depends on the outcome of her legal appeal.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, will be freed only if the court overturns its apostasy verdict, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said this week in a statement published by Suna, the state-run news agency.

Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in prison last week, was sentenced to death by hanging on May 15 after refusing to recant her Christian faith in favor of Islam.

Her legal team lodged an appeal with the Sudanese court on May 22, saying the verdict contradicts Sudan’s 2005 constitution as well as international rights accords to which the country is signatory. Ibrahim “enjoyed all the necessary requirements for a fair trial as a constitutional right,” the Sudanese judiciary said May 18 in a statement published by Suna.

Ibrahim’s mother was an Ethiopian Christian and her father a Sudanese Muslim who left them when she was 6, her husband, Daniel Wani, said in a May 21 phone interview from the capital, Khartoum. She was raised a Christian in Sudan and married Wani in 2011, shortly after the death of her mother, he said. Wani, a US citizen, has mostly lived in that country since leaving Sudan.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the US government has “engaged” with Wani since June 2013 and throughout his wife’s trial. Ibrahim and Wani’s two children may qualify for US citizenship, subject to regulations including DNA testing to establish their biological relationship, she said.

Ibrahim was arrested in August after men who said they were from her father’s side of the family reportedly accused her of adultery, Amnesty said in a May 13 statement. An apostasy charge was added in February when Ibrahim said she was Christian, not Muslim. In addition to the death sentence, the court annulled Ibrahim and Wani’s marriage and ordered she be lashed 100 times for adultery.

Under Sudanese law, a pregnant woman can’t be executed until giving birth and raising the child for two years, according to Amnesty.





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