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Five Christians appeal prayer charges in Laos

by Hannah Tooley

The men have confirmed they will appeal the decision. Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) has reported that a false document was submitted to the Appeals Court - without the knowledge or consent of the five.

It stated that they had decided to withdraw their appeal.

The Christians, Pastor Kaithong, Puphet, Muk, Hasadee and Tiang said that the signatures on the document were not theirs and the Prosecutors' Office has accepted that the document is false.

The group were originally accused of murdering Mrs Chan. She was suffering from an unidentified two-year illness when she died on her return trip from the hospital to her home.

The village chief granted permission for a Christian funeral for Mrs Chan, but later ordered the proceedings to be stopped.

They were accused of giving Mrs Chan medication which caused her death, however this was cleared last August.

Since then they have been found guilty of "performance of the medical profession without a license".

The five Christians say they only prayed for Mrs Chan as per her request.

An East Asia Advocate at CSW told Premier: "If it is decided that praying for a sick person is in fact performance of the medical profession without a licence that sets a very dangerous precedent and that potentially could affect whether other Christians in the province are allowed to pray for people who are sick.

"If this is indeed a violation of health regulations, because they've performed medical profession without a licence, then obviously there should be some kind of health expert or health minister involved in that decision - but so far we haven't seen their involvement in the case at all."
The five Christians have been released temporarily while they appeal the court's decision. No date has been set for the final verdict.

Listen to CSW speak to Premier's Hannah Tooley here:

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