UPDATE: Death Sentence Conditionally Annulled
On Sunday, July 3, 2011, Iran's Supreme Court overturned the death sentence that a lower court had imposed on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
“The Supreme Court has annulled the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Rasht, asking the accused to repent,” said Youcef’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah.
The court’s decision lifts Nadarkhani’s death sentence under the condition that he “repent” (recant) his Christian faith. It is unclear whether the death sentence will be re-imposed if he refuses to recant.
Also on Sunday, Nadarkhani’s attorney was sentenced to nine years in prison and has been banned for 10 years from practicing law or teaching at university because of his "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime.”
Death Sentence Upheld
The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of a pastor convicted of apostasy and accused of evangelizing Muslims. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, has been in prison since October 2009, and the appeal of his death sentence was rejected by the Iranian Supreme Court on June 28, 2011. He is to be executed by hanging. If the death sentence is carried out, it will be the first court-ordered execution of a Christian in Iran in 20 years.
Youcef and his wife, Fatemah
“At this time, there is no more action that can be done inside of Iran to overturn this sentence,” a VOM contact said. “It can be carried out at any time. The only options right now are to immediately and swiftly bring international attention to the issue.”
Nadarkhani, a pastor from Rasht, about 750 miles northwest of Tehran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required children, including his 8- and 9-year-old sons, to study the Quran in school. Nadarkhani told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice. As a result of his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him for protesting. The charges were later amended to apostasy and evangelism of Muslims. Nadarkhani was tried on Sept. 21–22, 2010, by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal and sentenced to death on Nov. 13 for apostasy.
Nadarkhani is imprisoned in Lakan prison, where authorities have used various methods, including medication, to convert him back to Islam, according to Present Truth Ministries. After Nadarkhani refused to convert to Islam, his wife was arrested, put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. She was later released after an attorney appealed her sentence. The Nadarkhanis’ children were cared for by a relative while they were both in prison.
Please lift up Pastor Nadarkhani urgently before the Lord and ask for his release. Go to his profile on www.prisoneralert.com to email government officials on his behalf.