Pastor Nadarkhani: Awaiting the final verdict
Pastor Nadarkhani’s trial ended on 28 September, and sources close to Christian Solidarity Worldwide indicate that the judges should issue their final ruling on and announce a timeframe for execution within one week. However, others fear that the death sentence could be implemented without any prior announcement, as has occurred in the past in Iran.
CSW is continuing to advocate on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani - speaking up, raising awareness among the international community and media, and urging key international players to intervene on his behalf .
Continued international vigilance and pressure is vital: the life of this man is still very much in the balance.
Global response to Nadarkhani’s case
CSW has been advocating for urgent international action to prevent the pastor’s execution. As the momentum has grown, statements condemning the sentence have been issued by various international politicians, including UK Foreign Secretary William Hague,; US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,; President Obama’s press secretary; the governments of France, Canada and Uruguay, and EU Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Ashton.
Prominent national and international media outlets have featured the case, including: The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, New Statesman, The Washington Post, Voice of America, SkyNews, ITN, Business Week, CNN and the BBC.
Within one week CSW’s campaign has mobilised over 40,000 activists through social media and the CSW website. The Facebook page group in support of Pastor Nadarkhani counts 11,400 international members. Thousands of people worldwide are praying and protesting locally.
Pastor Nadarkhani's case: Timeline
Oct 2011 - A final written verdict by the court is expected on Monday 10 October. As we wait for the formal verdict to come through, Pastor Nadarkhani’s life is in the balance. No conclusions should be drawn on this case until this verdict is received.
Sept 2011 - Pastor Nadarkhani was put on trial again from 25 to 28 September. In a session on 25 September, the court in Rasht ruled that the pastor had not practiced Islam as an adult, but still upheld the charge of apostasy because of the his Muslim ancestry. From 26- 28 September he appeared in court three times, and was asked each day to renounce his faith in order to secure an annulment of the apostasy charge and a lifting of the death sentence. He refused each time. On 28 September, Pastor Nadarkhani’ lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkah, presented the final defense.
The conviction and sentence are illegal under Iranian law, since the penal code does not specify death for apostasy. They also violate article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief. Moreover, the conviction and sentence are in violation of international covenants to which Iran is signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and the right to change one’s religion.
July 2011 – A written verdict was received by Pastor Nadarkhani’s lawyer; however, it was dated June 2011. Contradicting a verbal verdict received earlier, the written verdict upheld the death sentence , but included a provision for its annulment if Pastor Nadarkhani renounced his faith. The Supreme Court also asked the court in Rasht to re-examine whether or not Pastor Nadarkhani had been practicing Islam as an adult prior to adopting Christianity.
June 2011 - The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court of Iran and verbal notification of a lifting of the death sentence was given.
December 2010: Nadarkhani’s lawyer filed an appeal.
November 2010: the written verdict from the September trial was received by Pastor Nadarkhani’s legal team, confirming the verbal notification of a death sentence for apostasy,
Sept 2010 - Pastor Nadarkhani was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) by the Assize court of Gilan province in Rasht, and received verbal notification of a death sentence, despite the fact that death for apostasy is not codified in the Iranian Penal Code. The court used a loophole in Iran’s constitution, basing their verdict on fatwas (religious rulings) by Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, the “father” of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in the country
Oct 2009 - Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested, soon after questioning of the Muslim monopoly of the religious instruction for children of Iran, which he felt was unconstitutional..
Iranian Officials Interview Pastor Nadarkhani
By Michael Ireland
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been tried and convicted of apostasy, but who is facing new charges by Iranian authorities, has been interviewed by visiting government officials from the capital, Tehran.
According to Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com): “Today, Wednesday, October 5th, a group of officials from Tehran interviewed Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani about the behavior of the judges and the charges filed against him.
“It seems like a positive development, however, in Iran only the facts must be considered. Some observers are concerned that they could manipulate his words in order to prove their false charges against him,” DeMars told ANS in an e-mail update.
DeMars said: “We have been informed that the verdict has been delayed and is now to be delivered on Monday, October 10th. The delay could be interpreted as a sign that the judges have decided to consult with key religious and political leaders, such as the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”
In his update, DeMars explained that: “Gilan province, Chief Justice, Mohammad-Javad Heshmati, was quoted by Iran Press TV as saying, ‘Youssef Nadar-Khani has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him. . . . There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case.’
“Now, Iran’s judiciary is on record telling a blatant lie,” DeMars stated.
According to observers, the statements by Deputy Governor Ali Rezvani, regarding the charges of “Zionism” and crimes against national security, demonstrate that there is pressure to bypass the legal system and execute him.
“Ali Rezvani is a hardliner and has shown that he is an enemy of Christians. According to some, Mr. Rezvani is the individual who pressured the judiciary to bring these charges against brother Youcef,” DeMars said.
He added: “We ask that you pray for both of these officials. Pray that God touches their hearts and opens their hearts and minds to the Gospel and the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ. Of course, pray for brother Youcef, his wife Tina, and sons Daniel and Joel.”
Over 50,000 people have already emailed the Iranian embassies around the world – add YOUR VOICE to theirs and support Pastor Nadarkhani.