Monday 22 January 2018

Sudan in U-turn on promise to release Meriam

Meriam Ibrahim with her husband Daniel Wani

Mike Pflanz in Nairobi

Sudan's foreign ministry yesterday repudiated a suggestion that the government would order the release of Meriam Ibrahim, the mother sentenced to death for apostasy, warning that only the country's courts could order her freedom.

Western nations have expressed outrage that Ms Ibrahim, who gave birth to her daughter Maya in prison last week, had been convicted of changing her faith from Islam to Christianity.

Sudanese officials suggested late on Saturday that the 27-year-old was to be released and that her death sentence would be annulled.

But Abu Bakr al-Sideeg, a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Khartoum, Sudan's capital, said yesterday that only the courts had such powers and foreign ministry officials would have no power over Ms Ibrahim's case.

He was "not aware that any release is imminent", he said.

Ms Ibrahim's husband, Daniel Wani, a biochemist, has said that he and his wife's lawyers will continue to pursue official avenues through the courts to have the sentence and the judgment quashed.

Mr Wani, who has dual American-Sudanese citizenship, dismissed the reports that his wife would be freed as "rumours", telling the BBC: "No Sudanese or foreign mediator contacted me. Maybe there are contacts between the Sudanese government and foreign sides that I'm not aware of.

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

Manar Idriss, Sudan researcher for Amnesty International, said: "We've received no confirmation that Meriam is going to be released and the appeal court has yet to issue any such ruling confirming a release."

Ms Ibrahim's father was a Muslim, but she was raised as a Christian by her Christian mother, and says that she has not committed apostasy because she was never a Muslim.

Judges in Sudan's strict courts system disagreed. She was found guilty of abandoning Islam and of adultery with a Christian and sentenced to 100 lashes and death.

Ms Ibrahim testified that she was raised as a Christian after her father abandoned the family when she was young.

She produced a marriage certificate as evidence that she had not committed adultery, and called three witnesses from her eastern Sudanese hometown to testify of her lifelong adherence to Christianity.

But she was found guilty of apostasy on May 11 and given four days to convert to Islam.

When she refused, she was sentenced to hang, although the judge ruled that it should not be carried out until two years after she had given birth. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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