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ICC Note:  The two South Sudanese pastors facing a possible death penalty in Sudan await their sentence August 5, their attorneys having laid out their final arguments.  The judge in the case against Pastor Michael and Pastor Peter appears to favor the prosecution, even though there is almost no evidence against the pastors.  In their defense, their lawyers maintained that the pastors were illegally arrested by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).  NISS accused the pastors of collecting information for a human rights group, but the charges against the pastors were not even made until months after their arrest. 

7/24/15, Juba, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Attorneys for two South Sudanese pastors facing the death penalty made their closing arguments on Thursday (July 23) before a judge who appears to favor the prosecution, sources said.

Defense lawyers concluded their case at Khartoum Bahri Court with the assertion that agents from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) illegally arrested the Rev. Yat Michael on Dec. 14, 2014 and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith on Jan. 11.

“Justice requires that you don’t judge [arrest] simply because you doubt [suspect] them without any concrete evidence,” one lawyer said.

Michael, 49, was arrested after delivering a message of encouragement to a North Khartoum church in the face of a government-aided take-over of the congregation’s property. The 36-year-old Reith was arrested after submitting a letter from leaders of their denomination, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC), inquiring about the whereabouts of Michael.

During their trial a NISS official accused the pastors of collecting information for a human rights group. The charges, including espionage and promoting hatred among or against sects, were formed months after authorities arrested them.

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