Sudan 'apostate' arrives in Italy

2014-07-24 17:28
Meriam Ibrahim holds her newborn baby girl that she gave birth to in jail in a room at a prison in Khartoum, Sudan. (Al Fajer, AP)

Meriam Ibrahim holds her newborn baby girl that she gave birth to in jail in a room at a prison in Khartoum, Sudan. (Al Fajer, AP)

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Rome - A Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity and then barred from leaving Sudan flew into Rome on Thursday on an Italian government plane, officials said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, whose sentence and detention triggered international outrage, arrived at Rome's Ciampino airport with her family and Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, television pictures showed.

There were no details on what led up to the 27-year-old's departure from Khartoum, and there was no immediate comment from the Sudanese authorities.

Ibrahim was sentenced to death by a Sudanese court in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

The conviction was quashed last month, but Sudan's government accused her of trying to leave the country with falsified papers, preventing her departure for the United States with her American-South Sudanese husband and two children.

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

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

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and later abducted by a Sudanese Muslim family.

The Muslim family denies that and filed a lawsuit to have her marriage annulled last week in a new attempt to stop her leaving the country. That case was later dropped.

Prime Minister Renzi mentioned Ibrahim's case in his speech to inaugurate Italy's six-month European Union presidency earlier this month.

"If there is no European reaction we cannot feel worthy to call ourselves 'Europe'," Renzi said.

Muslim women are not permitted to marry Christian men under the brand of Islamic law enforced in Sudan.

Ibrahim, her husband and children had been staying at the US Embassy in Khartoum.

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