Voice of America (Washington, DC)

24 July 2014

Sudanese Woman Spared Death Sentence Flown to Italy

Photo: Lapo Pistelli/Facebook
Italian vice-minister of foreign affairs Lapo Pistelli has posted a photo of himself with Meriam Ibrahim and her children. Ibrahim had been arrested for converting from Islam before marrying her husband. The photo was taken a few minutes before they arrived in Rome from Sudan.

A Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity, and then barred from leaving Sudan, was due to arrive in Italy on Thursday, an Italian government official said.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was on a plane accompanied by Italy's vice minister of foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, according to the official who asked not to be named.

"Mariam, the young Christian woman held in Khartoum after being condemned to death for apostasy, should be arriving in Italy on a government flight," the official said in a text message, without specifying when the flight had left.

In late June, Ibrahim was arrested as she tried to board a plane for the United States. Sudanese police accused her of traveling with a forged passport.

Three days after that arrest, she was released and immediately sought refuge in the U.S. embassy with her husband - a South Sudanese-born U.S. citizen - and their two children. The family had stayed there nearly a month.

Ibrahim's mother was a Christian and her father a Muslim. Under Sudanese law, she is a Muslim even though she was brought up as a Christian after her father abandoned the family.

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