» 09/08/2012 13:40 IRAN Iranian Protestant pastor, sentenced to death for apostasy, is released Judges have dropped the charges against Youcef Nadarkhani in prison since 2009. He was, however, convicted of "evangelizing Muslims." Based on the three-year sentence, he already served the time and should now be released. Satisfaction among the members of the Church of Iran.
/ Agencies) - An Iranian court has ordered the release of Pastor Youcef
Nadarkhani in prison since October 2009 and sentenced to death for apostasy
with the sentence suspended but not canceled in July of last year (see AsiaNews
21/07 / 2011
Tehran suspended, not canceled, the death sentence for conversion of a
is a turning point in the course of a story that had long made may fear for the
fate of the 35 year-old Christian. On
the eve of the hearing today, in fact, many hypothesized a new trial and fresh
charges against the man, based on "perfectly fabricated" crime to
prolong his sentence, according to the complaint of many activists. In
an interview with BosNewsLife the church to which the pastor belonged, instead
confirmed the "positive" change in the course of events.
pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was acquitted of "apostasy," but found guilty
of "evangelizing Muslims." He
was sentenced for this to three years in prison, but has already served this,
given that he has been in prison since October 2009. For
this reason he will be released, sources of the Church of Iran
added. The positive outcome is "an answer to our prayers," said
Firouz Khandjani, another member of the Protestant movement, adding that Youcef
could leave his cell "by the late afternoon."
recent days, the network of activists Farsi
Christian Network had spoken of the possibility of new charges against the
man, including "banditry and extortion" that would have replaced the
previous count of indictment for "apostasy." Following
strong protests from the international community for the condemnation, the
Iranian authorities - explained the Christian activists - want to influence the
case by "mounting arbitrary charges" and thus "increasing
concern" about his fate.
Youcef Nadarkhani, 35, (he was born in 1977), a member of the Church of Iran was
arrested Oct. 13, 2009 in
the city of Rasht
as he tried to legally register his church. It is believed that his arrest was
caused by his position, critical of the Islamic religious monopoly on the education
of children in Iran.
He was initially accused of protests, but later the charges were changed into
that of apostasy and the evangelization of Muslims.
Iranian civil law
does not provide the crime of apostasy, even if authorities have discussed
passing such a law for some time. In the case of Pastor Nadarkhani, which has
been described as "distorted" and "extrajudicial", it seems
that there was political pressure on judges, who were divided on the sentence.
The court apparently used art. 167 of the Iranian Constitution, which states
that if the judges do not find the basis for a decision in civil law then they
should "cite Islamic reliable sources or a valid fatwa to arrive at a judgment
and issue a verdict."