In Brief

Meriam Ibrahim freed by Sudanese court

Death sentence for apostasy overturned as Meriam Ibrahim is given her freedom

Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, has been released from prison, according to her lawyer.

Suna, the official state news outlet in Sudan, said that Ibrahim's conviction had been overturned by an appeal court.

Ibrahim was sentenced under Sharia law to hang for apostasy after she married a Christian man. The 27-year-old's case sparked outrage around the world.

The Suna news agency reported: "The appeal court ordered the release of Meriam Yahya and the cancellation of the (previous) court ruling."Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, told journalists that he was looking forward to seeing his wife.

"We are very very happy about this – and we're going to her now," Ibrahim's lawyer told the BBC.

Ali said that throughout her ordeal, Ibrahim had displayed "extraordinary courage" and that her convictions had never faltered.

"It's a victory for freedom of religion in Sudan," he said. "By Meriam's strong position, we believe that in the future no-one will be subjected to such a trial."

Ibrahim gave birth in prison to a baby girl, called Maya, while shackled to the floor.

Her release comes "as the culmination of weeks of campaigning and anger around the world", The Independent says.

More than a million people signed an Amnesty International petition calling for Ibrahim to be let out of jail.

Amnesty's deputy regional director Sarah Jackson said: "Today's ruling is a small step to redressing the injustice done to Meriam. However, she should never have been prosecuted.

"Meriam was sentenced to death when eight months pregnant for something which should not be a crime. Furthermore, her abhorrent treatment, including being shackled, violated international human rights law against ill-treatment."

Meriam Ibrahim: Sudan denies retracting death sentence

2 June

Sudanese authorities denied that a woman sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith would soon be set free, contrary to some media reports.

On Sunday the BBC reported that a Sudanese foreign ministry official had said Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a baby girl while in prison last week, would be freed from custody "in a few days' time". But the foreign ministry later clarified that Ibrahim's release depended on the outcome of a court appeal.A ministry statement said what Abdullah Alazreg, a foreign ministry under-secretary actually told media on Saturday was "that the defence team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict ... and if the appeals court rules in her favour, she will be released"."Some media took what the under-secretary said out of context, changing the meaning of what he said," the ministry clarified.In an interview with The Times, David Cameron called on the Sudanese government to lift the "barbaric" death sentence and promised he would continue to put pressure on Khartoum.Ibrahim, 27, says that she was raised an Orthodox Christian by her mother and married a Christian. But the court ruled that she should be regarded as a Muslim because that was her father's faith – a claim she denied, The Independent reports. "I am a Christian. I did not convert from Islam," Ibrahim told the Haj Yousif court in Khartoum.Due to her refusal to renounce her Christianity, Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy.On Wednesday, she gave birth to a daughter in her prison cell. The court decreed that she would be allowed to nurse her baby for two years before the sentence was carried out.


Sudanese woman condemned to death gave birth 'in chains'

30 May 

A Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for renouncing Islam by marrying a Christian, gave birth while shackled to the floor of her cell, it emerged yesterday.

The Omdurman Women’s Prison, near Khartoum, refused to allow Meriam Ibrahim, 27, to go to hospital after she went into labour. Her child, named Maya, will be kept with Ibrahim until the age of two. Ibrahim will then be executed and Maya will be put in the care of her father, Daniel Wani.

Wani, 27, who is in a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy, has said he does not know how he will be able to look after his daughter.

He told the Daily Telegraph that his wife gave birth on Tuesday with her legs shackled. "They kept a chain on her legs," he said. "She is very unhappy about that".

Last night "outrage was growing around the world", The Times reports. "What’s happening to Meriam, it's like an incident out of the dark ages," said Hala al-Karib, the Sudanese director of Siha, a women’s rights group. "Meriam should be released immediately and the charges against her should be dropped," Ms al-Karib added.

Ibrahim's lawyer Mohaned Mustafa Elnour described the parents as "happy and proud", but said that they remain aware of the gravity of their situation. "The family are taking some time to enjoy the birth before they return to fighting the injustice of Meriam's sentence," Elnour said.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging for apostasy – the crime of renouncing her faith. Ibrahim disputes the charge, saying that she has always been Christian. But the judge rejected her claim, finding instead that she had grown up a Muslim because of the faith of her father and was therefore guilty because she married someone not of her religion.

The ruling invalidates her marriage, meaning that she is also guilty of sex outside of wedlock, which is regarded as adultery under Sudan’s penal code.

An Amnesty International petition calling for Ibrahim's death sentence to be overturned had last week attracted more than 660,000 signatures.


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