Abbas Salmanpour, one of the lawyers representing Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, informed Mohabat News on Nov. 2 of further developments in the case, which now sits in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Although Nadarkhani’s verdict was predicted to be announced by Nov. 2, the decision remains in Khamenei power, and can be announced at any time, as he has ultimate authority in all judiciary matters.
Confusion surrounds Nadarkhani’s case, which has been passed back and forth between the local court of the Gilan province and Iran’s Supreme Court.
After the case garnered a large amount of international attention, the courts chose to put Nadarkhani’s fate into the hands of Khamenei to avoid potential public backlash concerning the verdict from the conservation Muslim community and international community pushing freedom of religion.
As Salmanpour contends, Nadarkhani is able to appeal his case again no matter Khamenei’s decision.
“If the local court announces the second verdict and if we appeal, the case would be sent to the high court,” said Salmanpour.
Khamenei does not need to openly state his opinion, but rather can control the court from behind the scenes, putting the decision in their hands.
“I think and I'm quite sure that the judges would implement this final verdict,” Salmanpour said.
According to Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, Iran’s court has a history of prolonging court cases to diffuse international attention.
“Our real goal is to keep [Nadarkhani’s] case in the spotlight,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.
Salmanpour expressed hope “that with the tact of the judges in this case, they will conclude it in good order so that [Nadarkhani] can go back to his family and this case will finally come to an end.”
Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was arrested for protesting in October 2009. His charge was then changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, for which he was found guilty in the local Gilan province court.
He appealed his case in December 2010 to Iran’s Supreme Court. The case was then passed back down to the lower Gilan province court, which in turn passed it to Khamenei for review.
International pressure has pushed the Iranian court to confirm that Nadarkhani is currently alive awaiting his verdict.
As far as his current treatment in Iranian prison, Salmanpour contended: “The related branch of the court allows his family to visit him as much as possible.”