SUDAN: Two Pastors Facing Death Penalty Over Groundless Charges

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Pastors facing death penality in Sudan

KHARTOUM: Two Pastors facing death penalty as their court trial approaches.

According to details, two Sudanese Christians, Rev Yat Michael and Rev David Yein Reith are in police custody while their court trial looming. However, if found guilty, both of them can face life imprisonment or even death penalty. The two have been detained over six charges which include espionage, offending Islamic beliefs, promoting hatred amongst religious sects and destabilization the constitutional system.

Reverend Michael was arrested last year on December 14, 2014, while Reverend David was booked by police earlier this year in January. Despondently, both of them were arrested without charges furthermore they were not granted access to a lawyer or their families either until March 1.

What’s more, the pastors have also been deprived of regular visits from family, although the Sudanese constitution approves of family visits and any such denial is considered illegal. Pastor Michael and Pastor David will be presented before the court for another hearing on July 23; an closing statements will be recorded. Nonetheless, the ruling is expected on August 5.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which has been monitoring the case two witnesses were presented in last hearing in Khartoum. Both of these witnesses which include an ex-army general and 2010 presidential candidate, Abdul Aziz Khalid, bore witness that the charges of security and espionage are without basis. Evidence presented by the prosecution was available to the public, Khalid told the court.

Chief Executive of CSW, Mr. Mervyn Thomas, said, “The court heard from a prominent expert witness that there is no basis for the charges against the pastors. We therefore renew our call for these unwarranted and extreme charges to be dropped and for Rev Yat Michael and Rev Peter Reith to be released unconditionally and without further delay.”

“The ongoing denial of access to the pastors’ legal team is unacceptable and in violation of fair trial principles, as articulated in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a party. The denial of family visits is a further measure to increase their mental and emotional distress; a cruel and unjust action on the part of the State,” he continued.

“We urge the African Union in particular, and the wider international community, to challenge Sudan on its treatment of the pastors and its failure to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief and the right to a fair trial,” he concluded.