Retrial Ordered for Iranian Pastor Facing Death Sentence for Christian Beliefs
Iran’s Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who was sentenced to death for apostasy, Fox News reports.
10/11/2011 Iran (Fox News) – Iran’s Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a pastor sentenced to death for refusing to renounce his Christian beliefs.
State media reported that the high court sent the case back to lower court because of concerns about the initial investigation.
“If there is an appeal and the case is returned to the supreme court, the case will be reviewed,” read a statement quoted by ISNA, the Iranian student’s news agency, AFP reports.
Youcef Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old pastor, was arrested in October 2009 and later sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.
His attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, and religious rights organizations say Nadarkhani is facing possible execution for apostasy and for refusing to renounce his religion, contradicting reports by Iran state media that have indicated Nadarkhani was found guilty of rape, extortion and security-related crimes.
The case reportedly had been referred to Iran’s supreme leader, a move some say shows the Islamic republic is feeling pressure in the face of growing international support.
Dadkhah told AFP on Monday that an Iranian court has decided to seek the opinion of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the Islamic republic’s spiritual leader and highest authority.