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Sudan 'to release' woman sentenced to die for apostasy

© Reuters

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-01

A Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for allegedly abandoning the Muslim faith will be freed "within days", a foreign ministry official said Saturday, though her husband was later quoted saying only an appeals court could free his wife.

"The lady will be freed within days in line with legal procedure[s] that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice," Abdelah al-Azrak, an undersecretary at Sudan's foreign ministry, told AFP by telephone.

Meriam Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but who was raised solely by her Christian mother, was convicted on May 11 of apostasy for marrying a Christian and sentenced to hang for abandoning the Muslim faith, sparking international outcry and widespread protests.

Ibrahim, 27, was eight months pregnant at the time. She gave birth to Maya, a baby girl, on Tuesday while chained in the hospital wing of Omdurman Women’s Prison.

However, foreign ministry spokesman Abubakar Al-Sidiq told CNN that he is not aware of any plans to release Ibrahim before a ruling from an appeals court.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, also told the news channel that only the appeals court could free his wife.

"I'm not aware that any release is imminent," he said.

Wani, a US citizen, has said that Ibrahim identifies as a Christian and was never Muslim, and therefore could not have abandoned the faith.

Under sharia law, which has been in force in Sudan since 1983, conversions are punishable by death.

The court also ordered her Christian marriage to be annulled and sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery.

Sex outside a "lawful relationship" is regarded as adultery under Sudanese law.

News of her possible release came as British Prime Minister David Cameron and former PM Tony Blair urged Sudan's government to commute the death sentence.

Speaking to "The Times" newspaper on Saturday, Cameron said the treatment of Ibrahim "is barbaric and has no place in today's world".

Blair described the case as a "brutal and sickening distortion of faith".

Western embassies and human right activists have condemned what they said was an abuse of human rights and called on the Sudanese Islamist-led government to respect freedom of religion.

"We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs," the embassies of the United States, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands said in a joint statement.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-05-31

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