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Death row Sudanese Christian `apostate` freed: Lawyer

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 02:30

Khartoum: A Sudanese Christian who gave birth in prison after being sentenced to hang for apostasy was freed today, one of her lawyers said.

Official media confirmed that an appeal court annulled the earlier verdict against Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 26.

Her case sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups after a judge sentenced her to death on May 15.

Almost one million people appealed to save her life on the Change.Org petition website.
"Meriam was released just about an hour ago," the lawyer Mohanad Mustafa told AFP today afternoon.

"She`s now out of prison," he said.

Born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, Ishag was convicted under Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.
Her lawyers appealed the verdict.

Today the higher court "issued a judgement on release of the prisoner Abrar Al-Hadi Mohamed Abdalla and dismissing the decree issued earlier by the first instance court," the official SUNA news agency reported, using her father`s Muslim name.

Twelve days after the initial ruling, Ishag gave birth to a daughter at the women`s prison in Khartoum`s twin city of Omdurman.

She had been shackled during pregnancy, Mustafa said.
A few days after the birth Ishag`s husband, Daniel Wani, told AFP he did not believe she would be freed.
Repeated attempts to reach him today were unsuccessful.

The couple`s 20-month-old son was also incarcerated with Ishag and their daughter.

European Union leaders called for revocation of the "inhumane verdict," while US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the way she had been treated was "barbaric and has no place in today`s world".

"It`s great," a Sudanese church source said of her release, after last week expressing optimism that she would be freed because of international pressure on Sudan.

First Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 02:30
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