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Sudan trial against pastors continues

November 27 - 2016 KHARTOUM
People gather at the Khartoum court in support of the pastors charged by the security apparatus (file photo)
People gather at the Khartoum court in support of the pastors charged by the security apparatus (file photo)

The case of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) against three pastors and a Christian activist witnessed its 11th and 12th court hearings the last two weeks.

Rev. Petr Jasek from Czechia, Nuba pastors Kuwa Shemaal and Hassan Abdelrahim Kodi from South Kordofan, and Darfuri layman Abdelmunim Abdelmoula were detained by security agents in Khartoum in late 2015 and early this year. They have been charged of conspiring against the state and espionage, and a number of other violations of the Sudanese Penal Code.

During the former hearing, “investigator Abdelrahman” said that the Czech pastor, during his visit to South Kordofan in 2012, gave money to “some individuals”, among them rebel fighters. This is regarded as support for the war against the state. As he is working for the international NGOs Persecution Project Foundation (PPF) and The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), which both support persecuted Christians, he is charged with “tarnishing Sudan’s image internationally” as well.

Pastors Shemaal and Kodi attended a conference in Addis Ababa in 2015, during which they alleged that the Sudanese government oppresses Christians. This is considered to be inciting hatred against state and within Muslim and Christian communities. Darfuri convert Abdelmoula is accused of supporting the three pastors in their “subversive activities”.

The Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) Centre reported on Friday about the hearings on 14 and 21 November. In the 11th session, on 14 November, the defendants’ lawyer asked the investigator for the prosecution about the Christian NGOs pastor Jasek is working for, the conference in Addis Ababa, the charges against Rev. Shemaal, and the religion of Abdelmoula.

The prosecutor responded by saying that the Sudanese law prohibits unregistered NGOs and their employees from performing activities in the country. The PPF and VOM aim to encourage war against the state, provoke hatred between Christians and the state, support rebels financially and logistically, publishing false news, and encourage insurgency among the Sudanese.

Rev. Shemaal drove pastors Jasek and Kodi in his car to visit “the burnt student”. He referred to the student who was allegedly set on fire after he had converted to Christianity. Rev. Jasek took photos of the man

According to the prosecutor, Abdelmoula told security agents that he was a Muslim. Later he acknowledged he converted to Christianity.

The prosecutor further stated that Abdelmoula organised the visit of pastors Jasek and Kodi to “the burnt student”, after he took a photo of the burns and sent it to Rev. Kodi in Addis 

Ababa. On the recorded audio’s, he is heard talking about Christians being targeted by NISS officers, particularly in the Darfur camps for the displaced.

NISS’ statement

In the 12th session, NISS representative Abbas El Tahir (65) delivered his statement. He said that the defendants conducted “hostile activities against the state, that threaten the national and social security [in the country]”.

He said that “Since 2012, we banned organisations or individuals working against Sudan. However, these NGOs still work and plan to threaten the national security and harm the society’s interest. Among those individuals banned were Fahmi and Danyal who organised the Addis Ababa conference as well as many others who participated in the conference.”

According to the NISS, the VOM and PPF are publishing false reports about Sudan, “in collaboration with some media houses around the world, and particularly the USA”.

On 9 December 2015, Rev. Jasek was halted at Khartoum International Airport by NISS agents. They told him to leave his documents, laptop, and camera, and board the aircraft. When he refused, they detained him under the National Security Act. “When he was interrogated, he confessed that he owned the items [taken from him at the airport], works with the VOM and PPF, entered the Nuba Mountains illegally in 2012, and that he was invited to the Addis conference by Danyal,” El Tahir said.

Jasek also confessed that he believes that the Sudan government oppresses Christians. While in detention, he received two messages on his mobile telephone taken by the security agents. The first one was from VOM’s Czech office declaring the loss of contact. The second message was from the Czech VOM director warning the pastor that as he went to Sudan as a tourist “for a special mission”, he will be in danger if it is discovered that he works with VOM.

Apart from “falsely confirming the oppression of Christians” in the Addis conference, Rev. Shemaal reported about a church building that was demolished in Khartoum, the NISS representative added.

El Tahir further said that Abdelmoula confessed during his interrogation that he is one of the founders of the student wing of the Darfuri rebel Sudan Liberation Movement. Abdelmoula reportedly also confessed that he aimed to tarnish the reputation of Sudan and the NISS.

Judge Osama Abdallah adjourned the case to 28 November. The complainant will then be given the opportunity to continue his statement.

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