Iran: Update on recent court hearings for Iranian converts

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On 27 July Mahrokh (Roksare) Kanbari (65) attended Karaj Islamic Revolutionary Court to answer charges of “acting against national security.” Commenting on the court hearing on Saturday, friends said that the judge was very rude and tried to humiliate Mahrokh after she disagreed with him. Today (29 July) she was notified of her sentence of one year in prison for “propaganda against the system.“ She can appeal this sentence.

The hearing was owing to her arrest shortly before Christmas when three agents from Iranian intelligence raided her home and took Mahrokh to intelligence offices where she endured ten days of intensive interrogation before she was released after submitting bail of 30 million Toman (US$2,500).

In a separate case, on 28 July Mohammad Vafadar, Kamal Naamanian, Hossein Kadivar (Elisha) and Khalil Dehghan – all from Rasht – appeared separately at the 28th Revolutionary Court in Tehran charged with “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.” At the hearing the judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, claimed that the Bible had been falsified and that the accused were promoting Zionism.

This follows an aborted hearing on 24 July. Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and eight others, including the four mentioned above, appeared before Judge Mohammed Moghiseh. Matthias Haghnejad, Shahrouz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi had chosen Moshgani Farahani as their lawyer. The other defendants (those summoned on 28 July) had decided to defend themselves.

The insistence of the five defendants on demanding legal representation from Moshgani Farahani angered the judge, who ordered the transfer of Pastor Haghnejad and Shahrouz Eslamdoust to Evin Prison and the arrest of Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi, pending their submission of bail of 1.5 billion Toman (€160,000) each – an exaggerated amount. Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi were transferred to an unknown location. It is not known when the five men will next be summoned to court.

Sentences for Mahrokh and the four converts from Rasht are pending following the recent hearings.

Iranian Christians request prayer for those who recently attended court hearings and for those who are still in detention waiting to be summoned to court. Please pray that:
a.       The name of Jesus Christ will be honoured in the court hearings and the Gospel faithfully represented
b.       God will encourage those who have attended or will be attending court hearings and know His peace and strength without fear or anxiety
c.       The judges will judge righteously as accountable to God and remember the commitment of Iran to uphold religious freedom
d.  That Mahrokh will know God’s encouragement in the face of the prison sentence and that an appeal will be successfully lodged

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