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Sudan 'apostasy' woman arrives in Italy

Mariam Ishaq had been spared death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity but was barred from leaving Sudan.

Last updated: 24 Jul 2014 23:08
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A Sudanese woman who was spared a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity and then barred from leaving Sudan, has flown into Rome on an Italian government plane en route to the US, officials say.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishaq, 27, whose sentence and detention stirred international outrage, arrived on Thursday at Rome's Ciampino airport with her family and Lapo Pistelli, Italy's vice minister for foreign affairs, television pictures showed.

There were no details on what led up to Mariam Ishaq'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 US with her American-South Sudanese husband and two children.

Mohaned Mostafa, Mariam Ishaq's lawyer, 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.

Matteo Renzi, Italy's prime minister, 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'," he said.

Muslim women are prohibited by Islam from marrying  men of other religions.

Mariam Ishaq, her husband and children had been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum.

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