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Sudan woman faces death for apostasy

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A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy after she converted from Islam to Christianity.

"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, AFP reports.

Western embassies and rights groups had urged Sudan to respect the right of the pregnant woman to choose her religion.

Local media report the sentence would not be carried out for two years after she has given birth, reports BBC.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population, governed by Islamic law.

The judge also sentenced her to 100 lashes after convicting her of adultery - because her marriage to a Christian man was not valid.

Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic cleric spoke with her in a caged dock for about 30 minutes, AFP reports.

Then she calmly told the judge: "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."

Amnesty International said the woman, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, was heavily pregnant and should be immediately released.

The judge addressed her by her Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

"Amnesty International believes that Meriam is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely because of her religious beliefs and identity, and must be released immediately and unconditionally," the group's Sudan researcher, Manar Idriss, said, on Wednesday.

She was convicted of adultery on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Islamic law, as practised in Sudan, it added.

The woman was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother's religion, because her father, a Muslim, was reportedly absent during her childhood, Amnesty said.

She was arrested and charged with adultery in August 2013 and the court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014 when she said she was a Christian and not a Muslim, the group said.

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Reporter: Sz. Cs.
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