An Afghan judge temporarily rejected the trial of a Christian man who converted from Islam to Christianity and ordered unknown corrections to his file, according to the convert’s lawyer.
The trial of Said Musa, an amputee who had worked for the International Committee for the Red Cross, was rejected on Sept. 27, said the lawyer with Advocates International (name withheld for security reasons), who recently arrived in Afghanistan to take the case.
“We understand this to mean that the judge ordered the Attorney General to effect some correction of what is on file,” explained the lawyer, Washington-based International Christian Concern reported Monday. “In terms of Afghan law, Said is entitled to receive a copy of the indictment and to peruse the evidence, if any on file, so as to file affidavit(s) countering any damaging allegations therein. Said had not received such a document and our own inquiry at the Attorney General had no success.”
Musa, 45, was arrested in May and has since been detained. He was targeted by the government after a nationally televised broadcast by Noorin TV station showed images of Afghan Christians being baptized and worshipping. He was seen in several of the televised videos. According to AsiaNews.it, another convert by the name of Ahmad Shah, 50, was arrested and detained in June also in connection with the Noorin TV program.
Since his arrest, Musa has not been formally charged, given equal protection or legal representation. The AI lawyer has been denied the right to represent Musa in court. The lawyer, the only one so far willing to defend Musa, explained that Afghan law only allows legal representation in court for Afghan citizens by fellow citizens.
“This is indeed the law, but it is misapplied as it does not abrogate the right to consult any lawyer of your choice,” said the AI lawyer. “While we are doing all we can to see Said our brother receive a more fair trial, we believe the charges should be withdrawn altogether. The right to choose who and what to believe is the most basic of rights, after the right to life.”
ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, Aidan Clay, said his rights group is currently working to find an Afghan lawyer to defend Musa given that the government has rejected the foreign attorney.
“However, if his trial resumes before the international community intervenes, he again may be without legal representation in court,” said Clay in a statement Monday. “Afghan court officials have said that his punishment may very likely be the death sentence. It is time for the international community to condemn President Karzai’s administration for allowing a human rights violation of this magnitude to occur”
According to ICC, Musa’s case is on the meeting agenda of General David Petraeus and President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday.