UK & World News
Sudan Death Sentence For Pregnant Woman
A pregnant woman has been sentenced to be hanged by a Sudanese court for converting to Christianity.
Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, who is being held in detention with her 20-month-old son, had been ordered to abandon her faith and return to Islam.
She has also been charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man.
The death sentence was handed down despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom.
At a court in Khartoum, Judge Abbas al Khalifa said: "We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged."
He also sentenced her to 100 lashes for "adultery".
Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983, and outlaws conversions under threat of death.
She is married to a Christian national of South Sudan, which won independence in 2011 after decades of civil war.
Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic religious leader spoke with her in the caged dock for about 30 minutes, trying to convince her to change her mind.
But she told the judge: "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."
Following her sentence, one of her lawyers Mohanad Mustafa said they would seek to overturn the ruling on appeal.
About 100 people, including Western embassy representatives, were in court to hear the sentence.
The United States, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands have all expressed "deep concern" over her case.
Amnesty International said she had been condemned to death for offences that should not be considered crimes at all, and condemned the sentences as "abhorrent".
Manar Idriss, Amnesty International's Sudan researcher, said: "The fact that a woman has been sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is appalling and abhorrent.
"Adultery and apostasy are acts which should not be considered crimes at all. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law."