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New day in court for pastors in Sudan capital

November 7 - 2016 KHARTOUM
A demolished church building in Khartoum (Radio Tamazuj)
A demolished church building in Khartoum (Radio Tamazuj)

In the ninth court session against three pastors and a Christian layman in the Central Khartoum Court on Thursday, the prosecutor submitted the final version of the accusations.

After postponing the sessions twice, the ninth hearing of Rev. Petr Jasek from Czechia, Nuba pastors Kuwa Shemaal and Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi from South Kordofan, and Darfuri layman Abdelmunim Abdelmoula took place on Thursday in the afternoon.

The four defendants were detained by agents of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in 2015 and early this year. They have been charged of a number of violations, amongst which conspiring against the state and espionage. Several of the charges are punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Accused

The Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) Centre that is following the case, reported on Sunday that the hearing took place before Judge Dr Osama Abdallah. All parties were present. Because the session was postponed twice and the date of the new session was not clearly announced, most of the defendants’ relatives and supporters were absent.

During the hearing, “investigator Abdelrahman” concluded the argument for the prosecution. He said that the Czech pastor, during his visit to South Kordofan in 2012, gave money to “some individuals”, among them SPLM-N rebel fighters. This is regarded as support for the war against the state, HUDO reports.

As Rev. Jasek is cooperating with the Christian organisations Persecution Project Foundation and Save My People, he is accused of “tarnishing Sudan’s image internationally” as well.

Rev. Jasek is further accused of espionage “because he entered Sudan under the cover of tourism. However, he was investigating the situation of Christians in the country, in particular the case of the student who was burned to death after he converted from Islam to Christianity”.

Pastors Shemaal and Kodi are accused of attending a conference in Addis Ababa in 2015, during which they gave speeches and presented photos alleging that the Sudanese government oppresses Christians and especially those who convert from Islam to Christianity. This is considered to be inciting hatred against state and within Muslim and Christian communities, HUDO notes.

Darfuri convert Abdelmunim Abdelmoula is accused of supporting the three pastors in their “subversive activities”.

More coverage needed’

According to the human rights organisation, the four defendants are charged with violating the 1991 Criminal Act, concerning Joint acts in the execution of a criminal conspiracy; Undermining the constitutional system; Waging war against the state; Espionage against the country; Entering and photographing military areas and works; Provoking hatred against or amongst sects, and Publication of false news.

Violations of the Passports and Immigration Law and the Voluntary and Humanitarian Activity Act consist of illegally entering Sudan, and Running activities for charity organisations without license.

HUDO concludes its report with urging the court to conduct this trial fairly. It calls on the diplomatic missions in Sudan to continue attending the court sessions, and on the Sudanese media to give more coverage for the court.

In the next court session, scheduled for today, the defendants’ panel were to be given the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution.


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