Iranian Pastor Faces Death Penalty as Health Worsens

Iranian Pastor Behman Irani, 42, who may face the death penalty on charges of apostasy, is experiencing serious health problems.

"After two years in jail he suffers terrible complications, including intestinal problems and rheumatism," Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the "Church of Iran" movement to which the pastor belongs, told Worthy News.

Khandjani said the hygienic situation at the Ghezel Hesar Prison in Karaj is terrible and that inmates do not have regular access to a toilet.

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The prison, located 20 km west of Tehran, is reportedly one of the toughest in the country and notorious for its mistreatment of prisoners, Khandjani added.

Irani started serving a one-year prison sentence in 2011, but was later informed he would also have to serve a five-year sentence that was previously suspended for "crimes against national security."

Irani's sentencing has been attributed to his Christian activities as the evangelical pastor of the Church of Iran.

Khandjani said Irani still needs to serve at least four years and is worried he may face the death penalty, leaving behind his Armenian wife and their two children.

Khandjani said Irani has been recognized as an apostate, someone who leaves Islam, the official religion of Iran and that the court verdict Irani was handed said he deserved the death sentence for apostasy.

Irani's case resembles that of fellow Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Before being acquitted in 2012 from a death sentence on charges of apostasy, Nadarkhani served three years in jail.

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