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Iranian Christian Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison

ICC Note:
An Iranian Christian has been sentenced to ten years in prison for exercising his basic rights to religious freedom. While the official charges are those of “membership in an anti-security organization” and “intent to commit crimes against national security,” when the charges are specified it is for exercising his basic rights as a Christian. Mr. Bordbar’s lawyer plans to appeal the decision and is hoping for a reduction of the sentence and possibly an overturning of the verdict.  

08/05/2013 Iran (Mohabat News) - Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, an Iranian Christian convert, to ten years in prison.

According to Mohabat News, Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, a Christian convert resident of Rasht, was tried by Judge Pir-Abbasi on the morning of June 9, 2013 in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Mr. Bordbar had been arrested during Christmas holidays on December 27, 2012.

According to the documentation and reports received by Mohabat News from the court's ruling, Mostafa Bordbar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization" and an additional 5 years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security.

The ruling was issued in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by Judge Pir-Abbasi and was delivered to Mr. Bordbar's lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, on July 31, 2013.

An eight pages report is available from the court session regarding the verdict. However, to be concise a short summery of it is provided below, including the charges levied against him.

It should be mentioned that there are names of Christian individuals, activists and ministries which cannot be shared here for the sake of confidentiality (the documents are kept by Mohabat News).

- A Summary of Charges:

-    The report defines Christian evangelical activities as Zionism which are used to fight the Islamic regime of Iran through the establishment of evangelical ministries and organizations and holding underground worship meetings.
-    Mostafa Bordbar's baptism in house of someone named Sh. Gh. by Pastor V.
-    Continuing attendance in house churches organized by a Korean lady referred to as S.
-    Holding, leading, and administering weekly house church gatherings in Gilan, Karaj, and Esfahan. Also providing believers in other cities with evangelical material.

According to a source close to Mr. Bordbar, his lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, stated that she is working on an appeal to submit to the court.

Expressing her protest to the ruling, she said that both convictions resulting in a total sentence of 10 years in prison are actually the same and that her client is being convicted twice for one charge. At the same time she expressed hope that the appeals court will overturn the guilty verdict.

After issuing the ruling, the Revolutionary Court announced that appeals to the decision may be submitted within 20 days of its issue.

The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. However, the Islamic regime of Iran prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam.

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