UK & World News

  • 24 July 2014, 22:08

Pope Meets Mum Who Faced Death For Her Faith

A woman who was sentenced to death over claims she converted to Christianity in Sudan has been greeted by the Pope hours after she flew into Rome.

Meriam Ibrahim, the mother-of-two who shot to world attention when a court said she should be executed, arrived in the city on Thursday on an Italian government plane.

Shortly afterwards, she and her husband and children had a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

A spokesman for the Vatican said the pontiff thanked her for her "witness to faith".

Ms Ibrahim's conviction for converting from Islam and marrying a Christian man in May was quashed last month, but she was then prevented from travelling to the US.

No details of what led up to the 27-year-old being moved from Sudan to Italy have been released and the Sudanese government made no official comment.

A Sudanese senior official told Reuters: "The authorities did not prevent her departure that was known and approved in advance."

Television pictures showed Ms Ibrahim's arrival at Rome's Ciampino Airport. The Italian government minister who accompanied the family also posted pictures on Facebook showing them on the plane.

Deputy foreign minister Lapo Pistelli offered no explanation but wrote: "With Meriam, Maya, Martin and Daniel, a few minutes from Rome. Mission accomplished."

After meeting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Ciampino, Mr Pistelli told journalists that Italy had been in "constant dialogue" with Sudan but did not give any more details.

Ms Ibrahim's lawyer Mohaned Mostafa said he had not been told that she was able to leave Sudan.

The case of MsIbrahim, who is married to South Sudanese/American Daniel Wani, triggered an international outcry. She gave birth to her baby daughter Maya while in prison.

She was convicted of apostasy and adultery despite claiming she had always been a Christian, having been raised by her Ethiopian mother while her Muslim father had left when she was young.

After the outcry, her death sentence was initially suspended for two years so she could nurse the baby in prison. Ms Ibrahim's young son Martin was also living in prison with her.

The death sentence was later overturned and she was freed, but when Ms Ibrahim went to Khartoum Airport with her family to fly to the US, she was accused of forging travel documents and detained again.

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