Arrest warrants out for two South Sudanese pastors
A Court of Appeal in Khartoum Bahri has issued arrest warrants for the two South Sudanese pastors previously acquitted of espionage and other charges.
Defence lawyer Ahmed El Sibeir told Radio Tamazuj that the appeal court intends to hear new evidence against his two clients when their trial restarts on the same charges.
However, the attorney criticised the procedures followed by the court, saying the court was supposed to summons the defence team or the accused before issuing the warrants. El Sibeir pointed out that they will follow legal procedures on the matter.
“I think the arrest warrants are not important if they do not summons us as the defence lawyers to appear before the court. For our part, we will follow the legal procedures, and discuss those things in the high court” he said.
Pastors Michael Yat Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, both returned to South Sudan on 19 August following their release after eight months in prison.
Rev. Ruot was detained by officers of the Sudan National Intelligent and Security Services (NISS) in December after preaching in the Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum North. His colleague Reith was held in January after delivering a letter to the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment asking about the whereabouts of Ruot.
Both were held incommunicado until 1 March, when they were charged by the NISS of offending Islam, punishable by flogging, and undermining the constitutional order and espionage, which potentially carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. The pastors repeatedly denied the charges. The NISS also imposed a travel ban.
On 5 August, the judge found both clergymen guilty of the charges. Yet, he decided that the period they served in detention was sufficient punishment. The pastors were released immediately.
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