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Trial of Christian pastors begins in Khartoum

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August 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Trial of four Christian pastors including a Czech missionary accused of espionage, waging war against the state and inciting hatred against religious congregations has begun in Khartoum on Sunday amid strict security measures.

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South Sudanese worshippers attend Sunday prayers in Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, February 10, 2013 (Reuters)

Last December, Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Czech missionary and filmmaker Petr Jasek four days after he entered Sudan carrying two bags containing a laptop, a mobile phone, a video camera besides other documents.

Jasek reportedly told the NISS that he received the documents and the video from a colleague by the name of Grad Phelps in Soutn Kordofan in 2012.

According to Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), Jasek was arrested for documenting instances of Christian persecution within Sudan’s borders.

“In the video, a man is seen describing how he got his burn wounds. While Jasek said the Christian man was violently attacked by Muslims, the man has denied such an incident. The man claimed the accused had just misinterpreted his words because he got the injuries from a car accident” the newspaper reports.

Three other Sudanese pastors were also arrested in connection with Jasek’s case and they are facing similar charges.

The prosecutor told the judge at Khartoum North Court on Sunday that the complainant accused the defendants of conducting intelligence activities and providing material support for the rebels in South Kordofan.

He added the defendants also fabricated videos of incidents of claimed genocide, killing of civilians and burning of villages besides claims of persecution of Christians in Sudan.

The prosecutor pointed they seized documents and videos contained in the laptop, mobile phone and flash memory, saying the defendants sought to distort the image of the government by disseminating information that could be used to put international pressure on the country.

He said that charges have been filed against the defendants under articles of the Criminal Code and article (29) of the Passports and Immigration Law on sneaking into the country illegally besides article (23) of the Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act pertaining to running a voluntary organization without registration.

For his part, Jasek denied his statements as presented in the indictment, saying the translation was not adequate.

Also, the second defendant denied his statements while the third and fourth defendants approved their statements as presented by the prosecutor.

A spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry had previously said they are working with the Sudanese authorities on the case but declined to release more details.

Last August, a Sudanese court acquitted two South Sudanese pastors who were charged with espionage and inciting tribal sentiments and ordered their immediate release after they spent seven month in detention.

(ST)

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