MANCHESTER — A city man is hopeful his sister-in-law’s ordeal that kept her in a Sudanese prison facing a death sentence is finally coming to an end.
Gabriel Wani said Monday morning he had been desperately trying to reach his brother, Daniel, in Sudan to confirm reports that Miriam Yehya Ibrahim has been released from prison and reunited with her husband.
“I keep calling and the phone is busy,” Gabriel Wani said. “I feel like it’s going through. I just have to confirm.”
CNN reported Monday that a Sudanese appeals court found an initial judgement against the woman was faulty. Ibrahim’s lawyer said the appeals ruling allowed Ibrahim, her toddler son and baby girl, born in prison, to be released from custody.
Gabriel Wani sounded much more optimistic Monday than late last month, when news reports that Ibrahim’s release was imminent. He said then he is wary of anything that came from the Sudanese government and that he and his brother would believe Ibrahim was free only after she walked out of the prison in Khartoum with her children and was safe.
Wani’s skepticism proved well founded over the coming days as different government officials denied the reports and Ibrahim remained incarcerated.
There were also conflicting reports Monday. Some agencies reported the appeals court had ordered her release, but had not confirmed it had gone through. The CNN report quoted Ibrahim’s attorney, which gave Gabriel more hope his brother’s family was together and safe somewhere outside the prison walls.
It also made Gabriel more desperate to try and reach his brother, only to get a busy signal each time.
International pressure on Sudan had been mounting since news surfaced that Ibrahim, who was eight-months pregnant, was sentenced to hang after refusing to renounce her Christian faith.
She was convicted of aspostacy – converting from Islam – and was sentenced to hang despite maintaining all along she had been raised as a Christian.
Under Sharia law in Sudan, she was considered a Muslim because her father was a Muslim. As a Muslim, she could not legally marry a Christian, which Daniel Wani is, and their marriage was not recognized.
That led to a conviction on adultery charge and a flogging sentence of 100 lashes.
Gabriel and Daniel Wani fled Sudan in 1998 and became U.S. citizens in 2005.
U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster of New Hampshire issued statements about the Sudanese court’s decision.
“It’s overdue and welcome news that Miriam Ibrahim has been ordered released,” Shea-Porter said.
Kuster’s statement condemned the sentencing and imprisonment as a horrific violation of human rights.
“I’m thrilled that justice has finally been served for Meriam Ibrahim,” Kuster said.