Middle East

Sudan death-row woman charged with forgery

Defence lawyer expects Mariam Ibrahim to be released when guarantor is found to ensure she does not flee the country.

Last updated: 26 Jun 2014 19:22
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The latest Sudanese charge against Mariam Ibrahim relates to her South Sudanese travel document [AP]

A Sudanese Christian woman who faces death threats after a court cleared her of apostasy has been charged with forgery while trying to leave the country, according to her lawyer.

However, Mariam Ibrahim Ishag, 26, is expected to be released when a guarantor is found to ensure she does not flee the country, Reuters news agency reported on Thursday quoting her lawyer.

The defence "is looking for a Sudanese person who has a residence and workplace in the area of the police station to pledge in writing that he would get Mariam to the authorities whenever they ask for her," Al-Sharif Ali al-Sharif, the lawyer, said.

He said the process was intended to prevent Ibrahim from leaving for the US with her family.

The charge against Mariam Ibrahim relates to the South Sudanese travel document she was carrying when authorities stopped the family from leaving Sudan on Tuesday following an annulment of her apostasy death sentence.

She is also charged with providing false information, sources said.

Re-arrest in Khartoum

Mariam Ibrahim was arrested at Khartoum airport, despite the presence of US diplomats who were escorting her and her family, her American husband Daniel Wani said.

They were trying to travel to Washington DC, Wani said. He said there was nothing wrong with her travel documents.

"We are worried. That's why we want to get out of here as soon as possible," Wani said of death threats against his wife.

Sudan's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned the charges d'affaires of both the US and South Sudan over the incident, official media reported.

Marie Harf, a spokesman for the US State Department, said the US charge d'affaires had voiced "concern that the family should be allowed to depart swiftly from Sudan".

"Sudan has assured us of the family's safety," she said.

Sudan's news agency, SUNA, said the country's Foreign Ministry condemned the US for trying to help the woman leave Sudan "via an illegal travel document" and criticised South Sudan for issuing her with a travel document.

Question of document

Mariam Ibrahim's lawyer said she did not have a Sudanese passport, something that Ahmed Bilal Osman, Sudan's information minister, insisted she should have used.

"That is the whole problem, she took a foreign document for travelling," Osma said. "What she has done is an illegal act."

However, Osman suggested the situation could be resolved.

Kau Nak, South Sudan's charge d'affaires, said Mariam Ibrahim was entitled to the travel document because her husband and children are South Sudanese.

"I'm the one who issued that travel document to her," he told AFP news agency. "My signature is on the back of the document."

A lower court judge in Sudan sentenced Mariam Ibrahim to hang for apostasy on May 15, in a case that raised questions of religious freedom and prompted an outcry from human rights groups.

An appeal court freed her on Monday from the women's prison where she had been detained with her children, but she immediately went into hiding because of the threats to her life.


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