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World News

Verdict date set for Sudanese pastors

by Aaron James

Christian Solidarity Worldwide also confirmed that the defence team for Revd Yat Michael and Revd Peter Reith has given the judge a final closing written statement. It challenged the prosecution's evidence, and asked the court to uphold the right to a free trial, which is in the Sudanese constitution.

It also highlighted the fact the pastors were both held without being allowed to communicate to others, something which should not normally happen, the confiscation of their laptops and electronic devices, and the way in which the prosecution built up its case against the pastors.

The Sudanese state has charged Revd Yat Michael and Revd Peter Reith with at least six offences, including undermining the Sudanese constitution and espionage. Both crimes can carry the death penalty.

The two pastors deny all the charges against them, and have been detained since Dcember 2014 and January 2015 respectively.

They were moved to a maximum security prison in June, and denied access to their lawyers and family despite appealing numerous times.

Andy Dipper, Chief Operating Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide, said: "We renew our calls for the unwarranted and extreme charges against Revd Yat Michael and Revd Peter Reith to be dropped and for them to be released unconditionally and without further delay.

"That Sudan continues to prosecute these men, and without even allowing them free access to their legal team, makes a mockery of the judicial process and is a clear violation of fair trial principles, as articulated in Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sudan is a party.

"In addition, the ongoing denial of family visits compounds the mental and emotional distress of the men and their families.

"We urge the African Union and the wider international community, to challenge Sudan on its treatment of the pastors and its failure to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief and the right to a fair trial."

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