Sudanese Pastor Days Away From Death Sentence Decision; 112K Sign Petition Calling for His Release

(Photo: Reuters / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)Christian church in Sudan in this undated photo.
(Photo: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)A pregnant Christian woman in Khartoum, Sudan, was sentenced to death Thursday after she refused to refute her faith, according to her lawyer. File photo, 2010.
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A Christian pastor in Sudan is less than two weeks away from a court decision that could end up sentencing him to death, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, whose petition to save the pastor's life has been signed by over 112,000 people.

Pastor Hassan Abduraheem has been charged along with two other men by the Sudanese government with espionage and agitating hatred between classes, and is being held in al-Huda Prison in Omdurman.

Last week, Pastor Kuwa Shamal was released on the same charges after authorities found no evidence against him, and the conservative law group is arguing that Abduraheem also deserves his freedom.

Abduraheem's attorneys have reportedly finished laying out his defense, and a decision by a judge is expected on Jan. 23.

The ACLJ has stepped up its campaign to free the pastor by sending a letter to Sudan's Minister of Justice, Awad Al-Hassan Al-Noor.

"Rev. Abduraheem has been detained for over a year as the result of an act of kindness he bestowed on a young boy in need of medical attention. In November 2015, Rev. Abduraheem, along with Rev. Kuwa Shamal, attended a Christian conference in Sudan where Rev. Abduraheem was a speaker," the letter said, focusing on the details behind the case.

"During his speech, Rev. Abduraheem showed the audience a picture of a young man who had been badly beaten for attending a demonstration, and explained that he was helping pay for his medical treatment," it added.

"In December 2015, Sudan's National Intelligence Security Service arrested the pastors on national security charges associated with helping the injured man."

The ACLJ insisted that all the pastor did was to try and live out his Christian faith through charity, for which he is now facing a possible death penalty.

The law group sent the petition letter, which as of Wednesday morning has been signed by over 112,000 people, and reminded the Sudanese government that it is under numerous international treaties and obligations, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects people from religious discrimination.

"We are preparing to send other letters to Sudan's vice president, among others. Justice for Pastor Hassan will be determined in the next few weeks," the ACLJ vowed.

Other persecution watchdog groups, such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which reported on Shamal's release, also said that Abduraheem should not be forgotten.

"We are disappointed that the trial of Rev. Abduraheem, Mr. JaĊĦek and Mr. Abdumawla continues despite being based on the same evidence that was deemed to be insufficient in Rev. Shamal's case," CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said last week.

"In reality, none of them have committed the serious crimes with which they have been charged. We urge the Sudanese government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of these men, who have been detained since December 2015, simply for an act of kindness," he added.

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