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World Watch Monitor (17.01.2017) – http://bit.ly/2jMnVCC – Czech aid worker Petr Jasek has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in Sudan after being found guilty of charges which included waging war against the state, violating restrictions in military areas, spreading rumours to defame the state, and inciting strife between communities.

He’s already been in prison for more than a year.

The verdict came today (29 Jan) in a trial in Khartoum which has also included Sudan Church of Christ leader Hassan Taour and Darfuri graduate Abdulmonem Abdumawla. They were also first detained in December 2015, alongside another Church of Christ pastor, Kuwa Shamal, who was released earlier this month.

Taour and Abdumawla have faced only the last two of the charges against Jasek (above).

WWM does not yet know the verdict in their two cases. Word of Jasek’s sentence came from the Czech Foreign Ministry.

Original article (published 23 January)

The court indictment specifically accused the two Sudanese men of “fabricating videos or incidents of claimed genocide, killing of civilians and burnings of villages, besides claims of persecutions of Christians in Sudan”.

Jasek was the first to be arrested, on 10 Dec., when authorities confiscated his computer, mobile phone and flash drives as he attempted to leave the country. Abdumawla, a single man employed in a mining exploration company in Khartoum, was arrested a week later. Then the next day, Taour and Shamal were arrested and held incommunicado for months, without charges or contact with their families.

All four were transferred to the Omdurman prison in early August 2016, then formally indicted before the Khartoum North Court on 21 Aug.

Court proceedings have at times been scheduled almost weekly, but postponed several times without warning when a witness, translator or the judge failed to appear.

In October, the European Parliament adopted an Urgency Resolution, calling for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the four men on trial “on charges of highlighting alleged Christian suffering in war-ravaged areas of Sudan”.

The trial hearings were observed periodically by Western diplomatic observers, with local supporters gathering outside the court at times to sing hymns and shout encouragements to the defendants.

One observer at a hearing in November declared, “The prosecutor has nothing new. It was just a repetition of what has already been said… They didn’t have any evidence to support their accusations.”

In December, courtroom interrogations focused on allegations that a meeting Taour and Shamal had attended with other Sudanese church leaders in Ethiopia a month before their arrest was organised with political motives to “damage and tarnish” Sudan’s international image.

While refusing to answer some questions posed by the defence lawyers, the NISS officer serving as the plaintiff in the case declared that “national security considerations” overrode several of Sudan’s criminal procedure laws that had been violated throughout the past year.

The appearance of a witness, Ali Omer, on 12 Dec. was hailed as of “significant benefit” to the four men.

The young Darfuri man testified that he had been injured with severe burns during anti-government demonstrations at an Omdurman university in mid-2015. When he was left with serious injuries requiring regular medical care, his Darfuri friend, Abdumawla, had collected funds for his treatment from various organisations and individuals, including Taour, to cover these medical costs. Jasek was carrying electronic information and photos about Omer’s situation when arrested. The defendants were accused of promoting Omer’s case abroad to defame the government.

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Also:

HRWF database of news and information on over 70 countries: https://hrwf.eu/newsletters/forb/
List of hundreds of documented cases of believers of various faiths in 20 countries: https://hrwf.eu/forb/forb-and-blasphemy-prisoners-list/

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