An Iranian judge known for his harsh sentences will supervise the appeal hearing launched by a well-known pastor and three other Iranian Christians against their long prison sentences for what authorities consider dangerous Christian activities.
Evangelical Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani along with three other Christians Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, and Saheb Fadaie are expected to face court on 4 October.
News that the judge will oversee the appeals hearing came as a setback for the four Christians who belong to the Church of Iran denomination, one of the largest house church movements in the Islamic nation.
In July 2017, the head judge of the 26th Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran, Judge Ahmadzadeh, found them guilty of “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity,” and sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment each.
Pastor Nadarkhani, who earlier faced the death penalty for refusing to abandon Christianity but was later released, and Omidi also received additional two-year sentences, to be served in what critics have called “an inhospitable area” in the south of the country.
All four men were detained in May last year during a series of raids by security agents on Christian homes in the coastal city of Rasht and charged with “acting against national security.”
Mossayebzadeh, Fadaie, and Omidi are also awaiting the outcome of their appeal against a sentence of 80 lashes each that was handed down in 2016, following their conviction for drinking wine during a communion service.
Sources: BosNewsLife, Christian Solidarity Worldwide