Skip to main content

Christian woman freed after death sentence ruled 'faulty' in Sudan

By Nima Elbagir, CNN
updated 5:39 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "I will remain a Christian," she told a judge sentencing her to death
  • Meriam Yehya Ibrahim was sentenced in May to death by hanging for apostasy
  • An appeals court rules the initial judgment was faulty, her lawyer says
  • Ibrahim gave birth to a girl in a prison last month

(CNN) -- A Sudanese woman has been freed from prison a month after being sentenced to die by hanging for refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

"I am a Christian," Meriam Yehya Ibrahim told the judge at her sentencing hearing in May, "and I will remain a Christian."

An appeals court in Sudan ruled that a lower court's judgment against the 27-year-old was faulty, her lawyer, Mohaned Mustafa El-Nour, said Monday. He declined to elaborate.

An international controversy erupted over Ibraham's conviction in May by a Sudanese court on charges of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, and adultery. Ibrahim was eight months pregnant when was sentenced to suffer 100 lashes and then be hanged.

"I'm so frustrated. I don't know what to do," her husband, Daniel Wani told CNN in May. "I'm just praying." Wani, uses a wheelchair and "totally depends on her for all details of his life," Ibrahim's lawyer said.

Ibrahim was reunited with her husband after getting out of custody, her lawyer said Monday.

Ibrahim gave birth to a girl in a prison last month, two weeks after she was sentenced. She was in the women's prison with her 20-month-old son, but Sudanese officials said the toddler was free to leave at any time, according to her lawyer.

The criminal complaint filed by a brother, a Muslim, said her family was shocked to find out Ibrahim had married a Christian, U.S. citizen Daniel Wani, after she was missing for several years, according to her lawyer. A Muslim woman's marriage to a Christian man is not considered legal in Sudan, thus the adultery charge.

The apostasy charge came because Ibrahim proclaimed herself to be Christian, not Muslim. Her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox, was abandoned by her Sudanese Muslim father when Ibrahim was just 6 and she was raised as a Christian, she said.

Sudanese Parliament speaker Fatih Izz Al-Deen defended the conviction last month, insisting that claims that Ibrahim was raised as non-Muslim are untrue. She was raised in an Islamic environment, Al-Deen said.

The lower court had warned Ibrahim to renounce her Christianity by May 15, but she held firm to her beliefs while her lawyer appealed the conviction and sentence.

Her sentence had drawn international condemnation from rights groups and foreign embassies in Khartoum, including those of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

Opinion: Why marrying for love should never mean death

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT