Pastor, activists receive prison sentences in Sudan

Sudan | The men were charged with spying for trying to help an injured student
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/30/17, 10:51 am

A Sudanese court Sunday sentenced three men who tried to help a burn victim for crimes against the country, including espionage.

Osama Ahmed Abdullah, the presiding judge of the Khartoum court, sentenced Petr Jasek, a Czech Christian aid worker to 20 years on espionage charges. Jasek received an additional 3 1/2–year sentence and a $15,000 fine for inciting hatred against sects and publishing fake news, among other charges. The court also sentenced Sudanese Church of Christ Pastor Hassan Abduraheem and activist Abdulmonem Abdumawla to 12 years in prison for offering criminal assistance to Jasek and inciting hatred against religious communities.

The men’s lawyers have said they will appeal the verdict.

Sudanese officials initially arrested the three men in 2015. They also arrested Kuwa Shamal, another Church of Christ pastor, but released him earlier this month, saying they found no evidence against him.

Shamal and Abduraheem attended a conference in November where Abduraheem said he was financially supporting the medical treatment of a student badly burned at a demonstration. The state security service arrested the two pastors the following month along with Abdumawla, who started the fundraising, and Jasek, who donated some money.

The security service accused the men of attempting to tarnish the Sudanese government’s image by gathering information on Christian persecution and genocide in the Nuba Mountains. They also faced charges of providing support to rebels and waging war against the state, among others.

The Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry rejected the court’s ruling against Jasek and said there was no evidence to support his sentence. The ministry said a deputy foreign minister would travel to Sudan in the coming days to negotiate Jasek’s release.

Joel Edwards, the advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, described the charges as excessive and unjustified since the men were only trying to ensure an injured person received medical care.

“We are profoundly dismayed by this verdict,” he said. “We call for the annulment of the verdict and the immediate release of these three men.”

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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