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‘Verdict not final’ for Sudanese woman sentenced to death

Meriam Ibrahim, who is eight months pregnant, has been sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her religion. (Photo courtesy of Metro.co.uk)

The fate of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese women who was sentenced to death by authorities for refusing to renounce her Christianity, may not be final, despite a court ruling this week in the capital Khartoum, an official said.

Sudanese Parliament Speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen said on Um Derman radio station that the verdict - which was not yet final – would go through all the judicial stages to reach the constitutional court, CNN news website reported.

Ibrahim, who is eight months pregnant, describes herself as Christian, according to her husband.

However, the court considers her a Muslim.

The death ruling for Ibrahim drew condemnation from Western embassies in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and international rights groups, including Amnesty International.

“The Embassies of the United States of American, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands in Khartoum express their deep concern over the apostasy ruling handed down on Sunday in the trial of Meriam Yahia Ibhrahim Ishag,” said a statement posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.

“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, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution,” the statement added.

Void actions

“We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms Meriam’s case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people. We are also concerned over the brutal sentence that could be faced with respect to the finding of adultery,” it said.

The court in Khartoum also ordered Ibrahim be given 100 lashes for committing "zena" - an Arabic word for illegitimate sex - for having sexual relations with a non-Muslim man.

The couple married in 2011 and have a child, born 18 months ago. Under Sudanese law, Ibrahim's marriage to a non-Muslim is regarded as void, the Associated Press reported.

Ibrahim can appeal her death sentence as well as the 100 lashes.

As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. By law, children must follow their father's religion.

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Last Update: Sunday, 18 May 2014 KSA 15:29 - GMT 12:29
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The death ruling for Meriam Yehya drew condemnation worldwide
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