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Sudan: Update - Defence presented for two imprisoned pastors

17 July 2015

Update - Defence presented for two imprisoned pastors

Lawyers were able to present their defence for Pastor Michael Yat and Pastor Peter Yen Reith on 14 July. The two pastors are accused of crimes against the state, two of which carry the death penalty.

There were two witnesses, an IT expert and a retired army general. The pastors have stated that some of the 'incriminating' documents allegedly found on their computers are not theirs, and the IT expert testified that it would have been easy for others to plant the documents on their computers without their knowledge. The retired general testified that the documents used as evidence against the pastors are in the public domain and are not related to military or other state secrets as had been alleged.

Their next hearing will be on 23 July, and will be for procedural purposes only. The verdict is expected during a hearing on 5 August.

Observers from a number of foreign embassies were present at the hearing on 14 July. An official from the Sudanese Ministry of Justice told one of the pastors' lawyers that the extent of outside interest has led the government to take a very close interest in the case.

An associate of the two pastors, Pastor Hafez, and one of their lawyers, Mohaned Mustafa, were also briefly detained on 1 July when challenging a government employee who was overseeing the destruction of parts of a church complex. It is still not known when the case against Pastor Hafez and Mohaned will be brought to court.

Please keep praying on their behalf. You can also speak up on behalf of Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter. Email advocacy@opendoorsuk.org and we will provide you with more information.

Please pray:

  • That Pastort Michael and Pastor Peter, together with their families, will know the Lord's peace and protection
  • That all charges against them will be dropped
  • That the charges against Pastor Hafez and Mohaned will be dropped
  • That church leaders in Sudan will know the Lord's wisdom in the face of increasing pressures against them
  • That all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.

Source: Middle East Concern



Update - Charges against pastors upheld

3 July 2015

After a full day of trial on Wednesday 1 July, a Sudanese judge found enough evidence to uphold charges against Sudanese pastors Michael Yat and Peter Yen. They are accused of seven crimes, two of which carry the death penalty.

The ruling is not a conviction, but means the defence must present evidence of the men's innocence, which will take place on 14 July. This leaves their lawyer, Mr Muhaned Mustafa, with less than two weeks to prepare their case. He will have only ten to fifteen minutes prior to this hearing to prepare his clients.

At the end of those proceedings, the court will have the final opportunity to review all the evidence presented and drop the charges or convict the pastors.

Suspicious 'evidence'

During Wednesday's hearing the judge questioned both men about documents found on their computer after their arrests, which included internal church reports, maps that show the population and topography of Khartoum, Christian literature, and a study guide on the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

"All of these materials, with the exception of the internal church report and the study guide on NISS are publicly accessible materials," explains the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

The pastors acknowledged having the internal church report, but both said they had never seen the study guide on NISS until it was presented in court. They had no knowledge of how it got on the computer.

Besides these documents, the only evidence brought by the prosecution against the Christian pastors was a sermon Pastor Michael gave on the Christian doctrines of their denomination.

No access

At the conclusion of the court hearing the attorney requested access to his clients, but the judge only had authority to grant him visitation at the court.

"Sudanese law grants sole discretion for visitation rights at the prison to the prison directorate, who in this case has previously denied requests for access," the ACLJ says.

Denying the pastors access to their lawyer to prepare their case is a violation of rights guaranteed both under Sudanese law and international law. The attorney will appeal the matter to the prison authorities on Sunday 5 July.

The judge offered the attorney ten or fifteen minutes at the court to prepare his defence. The attorney protested that such time is not adequate to prepare a defence, let alone a defence for charges that carry the death penalty, but to no avail.

"The judge in this case is walking a tight rope. He is under pressure to balance local expectations on him to uphold the principles of the Sharia governed state with adherence to international human rights standards. Christians around the world must pray and advocate fervently for justice to be done for the pastors in accordance with international human rights standards," an Open Doors expert has said.

Peter Yen has told CBN: "We want you to pray that this test be for the glory of God in this place... and for us to be in peace with our people and the ones who are against us."

Please keep praying on their behalf. You can also speak up on behalf of Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter. Email advocacy@opendoorsuk.org and we will provide you with more information.

Please pray:

  • That justice will be done for the pastors
  • That the Lord will grant wisdom and protection to the legal team
  • That the Lord will continue to provide strength
  • That the Lord will sustain their families and provide for their every need
  • That the Lord's name will be glorified in these developments in accordance with their desire.


SUDAN: PASTOR'S ATTORNEY ARRESTED

02 July 2015

Mohaned Mustafa, attorney for the two imprisoned Sudanese pastors Michael Yat and Peter Yen, was also imprisoned this week, along with another pastor, Pastor Hafez.

Pastor Hafez leads the Khartoum Bhari Evangelical Church, the church where Pastor Michael preached and spoke out against the persecution of Christians in Sudan and an ongoing land dispute between the church and the government.

Pastor Hafez asked Mr. Mustafa to come to his church when the police appeared with engineers to destroy it under a government order. Mr. Mustafa looked at the government order and said that it authorised the government to destroy one area of the church compound, but the police were instructing the engineers to destroy another.

The pastor and the attorney were then arrested, but released on bail shortly afterwards. They have been charged with violating article 99 of the Sudanese Penal Code of 1991 which criminalises obstructing a public servant during the course of his duty. If convicted they could receive up to six months imprisonment, a fine or both.

"This arrest of their attorney is of great concern. While we are pleased that he was promptly released on bail, the arrest shows a potential that high-level individuals are attempting to interfere in the judicial cases involving both the church land dispute and Pastors Michael and Peter," says the American Centre for Law and Justice.

We are awaiting further updates following Michael and Peter's hearing this week.

Source: ACLJ

PLEASE PRAY:

  • that the pastors, their attorney and their families will know the Lord's peace and protection
  • that the charges against them all will be dropped
  • that Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter will be freed
  • that the Sudanese government will respond to international pressure on this issue.


Imprisoned pastors have new court date

29 June 2015

Following the hearing on 25 June, two imprisoned South Sudanese pastors will face a judge on 2 July.

Pastor Michael Yat and Peter Yen stand accused of crimes against the state, with two of the crimes carrying the death penalty. They were arrested after speaking out against the treatment of Christians in Sudan.

The prosecution closed its case on 25 June after presenting its final witness, an officer of the National Intelligence and Security Service. No new evidence was offered.

The two men will now return to court on 2 July, when the judge will question them. He will then decide whether to drop the case against them or allow it to continue.

They are still being detained at the high security Kober Prison. Although no longer in solitary confinement, they are still being denied visitors, and can only meet with their families and legal team when attending hearings.

Please keep praying on their behalf. You can also speak up on behalf of Pastor Michael and Pastor Yen. Email advocacy@opendoorsuk.org and we will provide you with more information.

Source: MEC; World Watch Monitor

Please pray:

  • that the Pastors and their families will continue to know the Lord's peace and protection
  • that the charges against them will be dropped and they will be freed
  • that the Sudanese government will respond to international pressure on this issue.


Date set for judge to question S Sudan pastors New Window

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