Lawyer for Death Row Sudanese Mother Has Doubts Over Her Release

Says Only Courts, Not Government, Have Authority to Free Her

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 873 hits

A lawyer has voiced skepticism that a Sudanese mother convicted of 'apostasy' will be freed from death row by Sudan's government, which had reportedly pledged to liberate her.

Elshareef Ali Mohammed, a lawyer and part of the defense team for Meriam Ibrahim, said he has doubts because only a court has the authority to release her, not government officials, reported The Guardian.

The churches of Sudan have also called for her release, saying the death sentence violates the nation's constitution.

Ibrahim was convicted after her marriage to a Christian man was declared unlawful and is being held in Omdurman's women's prison, near Khartoum, with her 20-month-old son and her newborn daughter.

The 27 year-old doctor had been sentenced to 100 public lashes for adultery, and to death by hanging for apostasy.

"Nothing has changed. Meriam is still in prison,” her lawyer said yesterday, adding: “This was a political statement made under pressure from an international campaign."

An official with the Sudanese foreign ministry, Abdullah Alazreg, told the BBC on Saturday that her release was imminent, reportedly saying the related authorities "are working to release Meriam through legal measures. I expect her to be released soon."

Although Ibrahim's lawyers have lodged an appeal against her conviction for apostasy and adultery, Elshareef said the court had claimed the documentation was incomplete.

Human rights organizations have said they expect the normally slow appeals procedure to be expedited in Ibrahim's case because of international pressure.

Ibrahim told the court she had been brought up as a Christian after her Muslim father left the family home when she was six. She married Daniel Wani, a Sudanese Christian, who now lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. He became a US citizen in 2011.

Last Tuesday, in the prison, she gave birth to her daughter Maya, while shackled to the floor of the prison clinic. Her husband has been permitted brief visits to his wife and two children.

Despite being told she will be hanged in two years after weaning her daughter, Ibrahim has refused to bow to pressure to renounce her Christian faith.

"My wife is very strong. She is stronger than me," Wani said last week.

Meanwhile, the churches of Sudan have said the death sentence is a "clear and direct persecution of Christians in Sudan".

In a statement sent to Fides news agency June 2, the Sudanese Council of Churches called for the annulment of the conviction and the immediate release of the Ibrahim. They also recalled that the sentence violates Articles 31 and 38 of the Interim Constitution and pointed out that Sudan signed the International Charter of Human Rights which provides for freedom of religion and conscience. (D.C.L.)