Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani May Face New Charges. “The new leveled charges raise concern that following widespread international criticism about the ruling issued for Mr. Nadarkhani, Iranian authorities wish to influence the case process by bringing up arbitrary charges. The new trial adds to these concerns,” said a spokesperson for FCCN.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned since October 2009, faces another court hearing tomorrow (Saturday, September 8, 2012).
Pastor Youcef pictured
According to Middle East Concern (www.meconcern.org), the summons does not state the purpose of the hearing, but added that Pastor Youcef has been informed verbally that he will face a new trial on different charges.
However, the Farsi Christian News Network (www.fcnn.com) has reported that the charges of “banditry and extortion” will replace “apostasy” for the 35-year-old pastor.
“The new leveled charges raise concern that following widespread international criticism about the ruling issued for Mr. Nadarkhani, Iranian authorities wish to influence the case process by bringing up arbitrary charges. The new trial adds to these concerns,” said a spokesperson for FCCN.
It was in September 2010 the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province found him guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death – a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011. In September 2011 he faced further court hearings during which he refused to recant his Christian faith. This apostasy conviction has not been rescinded.
“In addition to pastor Yousef, at least 16 other believers remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith and activities. These include pastor Behnam Irani, detained in Karaj, who continues to suffer poor health. Last month it was reported that Behnam has been denied access to adequate medical treatment and that he remains very ill,” said a spokesperson for Middle East Concern.”
The spokesperson added that Iranian Christians “rejoice” that Youcef’s life has been spared thus far. They request our continued intercession that:
a. Youcef’s death sentence will be revoked, his conviction overturned and any further charges against him dropped
b. Youcef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon
c. Behnam will know the healing touch of Jesus, that and he, his wife, Christine, and their daughter and son, will know the presence of Jesus, and that this family will be reunited soon
d. All believers in Iran facing trials because of their faith will know the Spirit’s guiding wisdom
e. Those detained for their faith will know the presence and peace of Jesus, remain strong in their faith and clear in their witness and testimony
f. Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord’s enabling and guidance
g. All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.
Meanwhile, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (ww.csw.org.uk) is reporting that the Uruguayan senate has overwhelming a resolution supporting Pastor Youcef at this critical time.
The resolution, which was supported by 51 of 52 senators, urges that “for reasons of humanity, the death sentence on religious grounds be suspended and the condition of this citizen [Nadarkhani] be reviewed”, and reminds Iran of its obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It is reflective of growing concern in Latin America regarding human rights in Iran, and follows the passing of a similar resolution by the Mexican legislature and expressions of concern from other parts of South America, including Brazil.
CSW has launched a global prayer campaign in the run-up to the pastor’s trial on Saturday.
CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas said, “CSW applauds the Uruguayan Senate for standing in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani and with others who are suffering human rights violations in Iran. This resolution is particularly encouraging because it reminds Iran of its obligations under the ICCPR at a time when the regime is initiating a fresh trial, and contrary to all justice, the charges are yet to be made known to the accused.
“CSW urges the Iranian government to respect its obligations under the ICCPR and ensure a fair trial, noting in particular Iran’s failure to inform the pastor promptly and in detail of the nature and cause of the charges against him, as stipulated in article 14 of the Covenant. This raises legitimate concerns regarding the fairness of the upcoming trial, and also calls into question the veracity of any charges that are leveled at this late stage. CSW therefore continues to call for Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate and unconditional release, and is urging the Church worldwide to unite in prayer for him as he appears in court this weekend.”