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ICC Note: Two South Sudanese pastors who have been imprisoned in Khartoum, Sudan since December and January, respectively, could face the death penalty for charges related to their Christian faith.Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith have been charged with undermining the constitutional code, waging war against the state, and spying. Under Sudanese law, these offenses carry the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison, according to their attorney. 

Two South Sudanese pastors being held in Omdurman prison in Khartoum could face the death sentence when their trial continues on 19 May.

World Watch Monitor reported in February that Yat Michael and Peter Yen (also named as David Yein Reith in some reports) were held in unknown locations after being arrested during a visit to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, from their homes in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011. On 4 May they were charged with a series of offences, two of which – undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state – carry the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Michael was taken into custody on 21 December after preaching that morning at the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) Khartoum Bahri congregation. After the service several men who identified themselves as officers from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) demanded that Michael go with them, and took him away without further explanation. The next day the security forces went to Michael’s temporary home and took some of his clothes and personal belongings. They informed his wife that he was being held in relation to an ongoing investigation but did not reveal any further details, whether he was under arrest or what the charges were.

Michael and his wife had taken their child to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, for medical attention but had been asked to preach at a church during their visit, sources told World Watch Monitor.