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Court case against Christian pastors begins in Sudan

August 22 - 2016 KHARTOUM
The All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum II (bcnn1wp.wordpress.com)
The All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum II (bcnn1wp.wordpress.com)

The criminal court case against three pastors and an activist in Khartoum began on Sunday amid tight security measures.

Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi and Rev. Kuwa Shemaal, activist Abdelmoneim Abdelmoula, and a Czech pastor named Petr Jasek, have been charged with conspiring against the state, espionage, entering and photographing military areas, calling for the use of violence against the authorities, provoking hatred against or amongst sects, and spreading false information. Several of the charges are punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Spokesman for the defence team, Dimas Marajan, told Radio Dabanga that the public prosecutor demanded the harshest punishment for the accused.

“The judge also heard the investigating consultant, who spoke on behalf of the security apparatus, and who filed the official complaint last Sunday. Tomorrow the defence and prosecution will be able to question the consultant,” he said.

Rev. Kodi, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Church of Christ, was detained together with another pastor by agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Omdurman on 18 December. They were reportedly questioned about attending a Christian conference in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Pastor Shemaal, Head of Missions of the Sudanese Church of Christ, was also held in December. He was released, but again detained in Khartoum in May, together with Abdelmoula.

Both Kodi and Shemaal were held incommunicado for months, until they were officially charged, and transferred to Omdurman Prison at the beginning of August ahead of their court hearing.

Last December as well, NISS officers detained Czech missionary and filmmaker Petr Jasek four days after he entered the country. Sudan Tribune reported on Sunday that according to Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes, he was held for documenting instances of Christian persecution in Sudan.

According to Sudanese law, an accused must either be released or brought to trial within 45 days after their detention.

'Harassed'

In 2014, the Sudan Council of Churches reported that Christians in the country were being harassed by the authorities and that their right to practice their religion was violated by the government.

The government has stopped granting permits to build new churches in Sudan, the church leaders said. They stated that some Christians opted for praying at home because they were harassed on their way to church.

The Human Rights and Development Organization (Hudo) frequently receives reports about detention and ill-treatment of Christians in Sudan.

In December 2014 and January 2015, NISS agents detained two South Sudanese preachers. After months of incommunicado detention, they were transferred to Kober Prison in Khartoum North and charged with capital offences. In August, they were eventually released, and returned to South Sudan after more than eight months in prison.


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