Africa

Sudanese woman spared death sentence for apostasy arrives in Italy

Guardian Reporter

Meriam Ibrahim, whose death sentence was overturned after international outcry, has arrived with her husband and two children in Italy.

Meriam Ibrahim and her family have successfully arrived in Italy in their second attempt to leave Sudan. (AFP)

Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian Sudanese woman spared a death sentence for apostasy after an international outcry, has arrived in Italy.

Italian television showed the 27-year-old leaving an aircraft at Rome’s Ciampino airport accompanied by her husband, two children and Italy’s vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli.

Ibrahim was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and to death for apostasy in May, sparking an international campaign to lift the death sentence. More than a million people backed an Amnesty International campaign to get her released, with British prime minister David Cameron and US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson among world leaders who clamoured for her release.

While on death row, Ibrahim, a graduate of Sudan University’s school of medicine, gave birth in shackles in May. It was a difficult birth as her legs were in chains and Ibrahim is worried that her daughter may need support to walk.

Because of the baby, Ibrahim was told that her death sentence would be deferred for two years to allow her to nurse.

International outrage
Under the Sudanese penal code, Muslims are forbidden from changing faith, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men.

During her trial in Khartoum, she told the court that she had been brought up as a Christian, and refused to renounce her faith. She and Daniel Wani – an American citizen – married in 2011. The court ruled that the union was invalid and that Ibrahim was guilty of adultery.

Her convictions, sentences and detention in Omdurman women’s prison while heavily pregnant and with her toddler son incarcerated alongside her caused international outrage. 

After an appeal court overturned the death sentence, Ibrahim, Wani, and their two children tried to leave the country in June, but were turned back. The Sudanese government accused her of trying to leave the country with false papers, preventing her departure for the US.

Her lawyer, Mohaned Mostafa, said he had not been told of her departure on Thursday.

“I don’t know anything about such news but so far the complaint that was filed against Meriam and which prevents her from travelling from Sudan has not been cancelled,” Mostafa told Reuters.

Ibrahim and her family had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum. – © Guardian News & Media 2014

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