Sudan rebuts reports that it will free death-sentence mother Meriam Ibrahim

(Source: Gabriel Wani Facebook page)Meriam Ibrahim who was raised in a Christian family and with her husband Daniel Wani, a Sudanese biochemist who lives in the United States, photographed in a Khartoum chapel in 2011.

Sudan's foreign ministry has rebutted reports that the freeing of Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old Christian mother sentenced to death for not renouncing her faith, is imminent.

It says her fate depends on a court accepting an appeal request made by her defence team.

News reports had said Ibrahim was to be freed but Sudan's foreign ministry said in a statement "the defense team of the concerned citizen has appealed the verdict ... and if the appeals court rules in her favor, she will be released."

A lawyer for Ibrahim, Elshareef Ali Mohammed, told the Belfast Telegraph newspaper Tuesday, "We will not believe that she is being freed until she walks out of the prison.

"If [Sudan's authorities] were to release her, the announcement would come from the appeal court, not from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the Agence France-Presse news agency reported Monday.

The foreign ministry statement said according to AFP, "The government does not interfere in the work of the judiciary because it is an independent body."

The U.S. and UK governments have condemned her treatment as "barbaric" and British Prime Minister David Cameron had called for her to be freed, along with former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

A petition calling for her release by Amnesty International has drawn more than 900,000 signatures and there has been world-wide outrage about the punishment.

A group of U.N. experts said on May 19 that Ibrahim's trial did not comply with basic fair trial and due process guarantees.

"This outrageous conviction must be overturned and Ms. Ibrahim must be immediately released," urged the U.N. experts. They also called on the Sudanese government to repeal all legislation that discriminates on the grounds of gender or religion.

"Choosing and/or changing one's religion is not a crime at all; on the contrary, it is a basic human right," said the experts.

Some newspapers have speculated that due to international pressure Sudan could grant her a pardon, but there has been no indication about such a move from the authorities in Khartoum.

Born to a Muslim father, Ibrahim was raised as a Christian by her mother, but Sudanese law states a child must follow a father's religion. She was convicted of apostasy and adultery for marrying a non-Muslim.

The Sudanese court dissolved her three-year-long marriage, and ordered that Ibrahim be lashed 100 times and later hanged.

She was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013 after a family member claimed that she was committing adultery because her marriage was invalid, as her South Sudanese husband is a Christian. The court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when Meriam insisted she is a Christian and not a Muslim.

Sudan's Criminal Code states that a pregnant woman sentenced to death must give birth and nurse her child for two years before her execution can be carried out.

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