Sudan’s death row ‘apostate’ mother unchained

1Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Christian Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy, sits in her cell a day after she gave birth to a baby girl at a women’s prison in Omdurman on May 28, 2014 (AFP Photo/)

Khartoum (AFP) – Sudanese jailers removed the chains from a Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy after she gave birth in prison last month, one of her lawyers said Tuesday.

The case of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups after a judge sentenced her on May 15 to hang.

Born to a Muslim father, she was convicted under Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

Twelve days after the verdict, Ishag gave birth to a daughter at the women’s prison in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

“They removed the chains” after she delivered, one of her lawyers, Mohanad Mustafa, told AFP.

“This is on order by the doctor.”

Sudanese law requires anyone sentenced to death to be shackled but Mustafa said “I think they will not put it again.”

Following the delivery, Ishag was moved to the prison clinic from a cell which she shared with other women, the lawyer said.

“After she gave birth the conditions got better,” he said, but “a prison is a prison.”

Last week, European Union leaders called for revocation of “this inhumane verdict,” while US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Khartoum to repeal its laws banning Muslims from converting.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the way she has been treated “is barbaric and has no place in today’s world.”

Mustafa and four other human rights lawyers handling her case for free have appealed the verdict.

“We’re still waiting,” and there is no word on when the higher court’s decision may come, Mustafa said.

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