Meriam lands in Rome, welcomed by Renzi - update 3

Christian woman was sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy

(ANSA) - Rome, July 24 - Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in majority-Muslim Sudan for apostasy before being released in the face of international outrage, landed in Rome on Thursday. The 27-year-old was greeted by Italian Premier Matteo Renzi when she landed at Rome's Ciampino airport to end an ordeal that lasted almost a year. "Today is a day of celebration," Renzi said after meeting Meriam, her husband Daniel Wani - who also is from South Sudan and has US nationality - and her two small children, Martin and Maya. Renzi complimented Junior Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, who led the Italian government's negotiations with Khartoum for the family to be allowed to leave Sudan and accompanied them to Italy.
    "It's a great joy," said Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini after bordering the Italian Air Force jet that brought the family to Rome.
    "We followed this case from the time the sentence was revealed and, thanks to the great work done by many people, we can welcome Meriam to Rome. "Now she needs the tranquility of her family". Pistelli said Meriam rested on the flight and chatted about everyday affairs. "We left at three o'clock in the morning so Meriam and her family slept," said the junior minister.
    "We talked about milk and nappies and Martin basically dismantled the airplane".
    Pistelli said Meriam will stay in Rome for a few days and will probably have some "important" meetings before going to New York.
    These meetings may include an audience with Pope Francis.
    Meriam's father is Muslim so according to Sudan's version of Islamic law she is also Muslim and cannot convert.
    She was raised by her Christian mother and says she has never been Muslim.
    Meriam's daughter Maya was born when she was in prison in May.
    She was released in June after her conviction was quashed and she tried to fly to the United States last month, but was arrested again, accused of holding fake travel documents.
    After the second arrest, Meriam sought refuge in the U.S.
    Embassy in Khartoum.