Thursday 14 December 2017

Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death and freed - is rearrested

Meriam Ibrahim, pictured with her husband Daniel Wani, has been released from prison after six months
Meriam Ibrahim, pictured with her husband Daniel Wani, has been released from prison after six months

Harriet Alexander

Sudanese authorities have re-arrested a Sudanese woman hours after she was freed from death row, and detained her husband and two children as the family tried to board a plane in Khartoum, a security source said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was sentenced to death last month for converting to Christianity from Islam and was initially released yesterday after what the government said was "unprecedented" international pressure.

The official did not comment on the reasons for today's re-arrest.

Ms Ibrahim (27) walked out of prison in Khartoum yesterday afternoon and was taken to an undisclosed safe house for her own protection.

In Sudan, where Islamic law is implemented, leaving the faith is a crime punishable by death – and earlier this month Ms Ibrahim's own brother called for the sentence to be carried out. "Her family had been threatened before and we are worried that someone might try to harm her," said Mohaned Mostafa, one of her team of lawyers.

Her release was announced by Sudanese state media, which said that the Supreme Court had overturned the verdict and she was to be freed.

As soon as he heard the news on the radio, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, another of her lawyers, rushed to the Omdurman women's prison to see whether it was true. Hopes of her release had been raised then dashed before: a similar claim, on May 31, quickly proved false.

"We are going to the prison now to find out more details," said Mr Elshareef. "We heard it just now on the state radio. We really hope it's true."

Ms Ibrahim had been detained since December and the court in Khartoum had ruled that she should receive 100 lashes for "adultery" – because it did not recognise her Christian marriage to the American citizen Daniel Wani – and then be hanged for refusing to "return" to Islam.

But Ms Ibrahim, who was born in eastern Sudan, close to the Ethiopian border, told the court that she had been raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Christian mother. Her Muslim father left the family when she was six.

Less than a fortnight after she was sentenced, she gave birth to a daughter, Maya. The judge ruled that Ms Ibrahim would not be executed for two years after the birth of the baby.

The case caused outrage around the world. David Cameron, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton all called for her release, and a petition to secure her freedom gathered more than 700,000 signatures. ( © Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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