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Sudan denies mother sentenced to hang to be freed soon

03 June 2014, 14:02

Khartoum - Sudan denied on Sunday a Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy would be freed soon, saying quotes attributed to a foreign ministry official had been taken out of context.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was sentenced to death on May 15 under the Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and outlaws conversions under pain of death.

Abdullah al-Azraq, a foreign ministry under-secretary, told AFP and other media outlets on Saturday that Ishag "will be freed within days in line with legal procedure that will be taken by the judiciary and the ministry of justice."

But the foreign ministry said the release of the 27-year-old, who gave birth to a baby girl in prison on Tuesday, depended on whether a court accepted an appeal request made by her defence team.

A ministry statement said Azraq actually told media on Saturday "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."

Azraq said "the government does not interfere in the work of the judiciary because it is an independent body," the ministry added.

"Some media took what the undersecretary said out of context, changing the meaning of what he said."

After Azraq's comment Saturday, Ishag's husband, Daniel Wani, told AFP he did not believe she would be freed.

"No one has contacted me and I don't think it will happen. We have submitted an appeal but they have not looked at it yet, so how is it that they will release her?" he said.

Ishag's lawyer Mohannad Mustapha had expressed doubts she would be released or that charges against her would be dropped.

"The only party who can do that is the appeals court but I am not sure that they have the full case file," he said on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Mustapha said a hearing that was due to take place on Wednesday was postponed because the file was incomplete.

Ishag was born to a Muslim father but said during her trial she had never been a Muslim herself.

The court gave her three days to "recant" her faith and when she refused, Ishag was handed the death penalty and sentenced to 100 lashes for "adultery".

Under Sudan's interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man, and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.

Her case sparked international condemnation, with British Prime Minister David Cameron denouncing the "barbaric" sentence.

Wani, a US citizen, visited Ishag and the baby on Thursday after being denied access earlier in the week and said that both were in good health.



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