DNA tests may be needed in apostasy case

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iol pic wld SUDAN - TRIAL - ISLAM - CHRISTIANITY AFP A handout picture taken on May 28, 2014, and released by the family on May 30, shows Daniel Wani, a US citizen originally from South Sudan, at the women's prison in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. Picture: Supplied


Washington - The American husband of a Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy may have to provide DNA proof that he is the father of her two children, a US official confirmed on Monday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki finally acknowledged that Daniel Wani is a US citizen after he waived his right to privacy, and said he was receiving help from the US embassy in Khartoum.

Wani met embassy officials on Monday, Psaki revealed, adding that “we have been engaged with him since June of 2013, so for the last year, and we've been in regular contact with him throughout the trial”.

His wife, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, who is a Christian like her husband, was sentenced to death on May 15 under the Islamic sharia law that has been in place since 1983 and outlaws conversions under pain of death.

While in jail, she gave birth last week to their second child, a girl. Their 20-month-old son is also imprisoned with Ishag.

But Psaki said the State Department did not yet have all the information needed to confer US citizenship on the two infants.

“To transmit US citizenship to a child born abroad, there must be, among other requirements, a biological relationship between the child and a US citizen parent or parents,” Psaki told reporters, quoting from the US immigration and nationality act.

The law “authorises the department to request whatever additional evidence it may need to establish the US citizenship”.

“Genetic testing is a useful tool for verifying a biological relationship,” she added.

Ishag's case has sparked international condemnation, with British Prime Minister David Cameron denouncing the “barbaric” sentence.

Psaki said the Secretary of State John Kerry was also “gravely concerned” about the case and pledged to continue working with Wani “to assist him as a US citizen”. - Sapa-AFP

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