Sudanese Court Frees Imprisoned Pastor Facing Death Sentence
Three Other Christians Remain Imprisoned on False Charges of Espionage
01/05/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Pastor Kuwa Shamaal was acquitted by a Sudanese court of crimes against the state. Pastor Shamaal had been imprisoned with three other Christians, including two other Sudanese pastors and a Czech Christian aid worker since May 2016. Although they were arrested at different times, the charges against all of these prisoners are similar and considered groundless by the international community.
Pastor Shamaal, head of the Sudanese Church of Christ, was first arrested on December 18, 2015 without charges, but released on December 21, 2015. The Sudanese government re-arrested Pastor Shamaal on May 25, 2016, accusing him of espionage, inciting violence, gathering false news, and waging war against the state.
Petr Jasek, a Czech citizen, Pastor Abduraheem, and Pastor Abdumawla were also detained in December of 2015 and held for more than eight months before receiving formal charges. Their arrest centered around a receipt, carried by Jasek and signed by Pastor Abduraheem and Pastor Abdumawla, showing that Jasek had donated money towards the medical treatment of Ali Omer, a Darfuri burn victim injured during demonstrations in 2013.
In August 2016, all four men, including Pastor Shamaal, were charged jointly with multiple offenses, including waging war against the state and espionage, both of which carry the death penalty as the maximum sentence.
Similar charges were previously leveled against two other pastors in 2015. Pastors Michael and Peter were imprisoned in Sudan for nine months before being released. Their lawyer was frequently denied access to them and they were unnecessarily held in a high-security facility. ICC worked alongside other international human rights groups to lobby for their release.
“[We] received the news of the release of Pastor Shamal Kuwa with a lot of gladness and gratitude to God,” Pastor Peter told ICC. “More than a year in prison because of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is uncalled for.”
“Despite happily welcoming the ruling by the judge to release him after finding no substantial evidence against him, we are not stopping,” Pastor Michael told ICC in regards to their prayers for the imprisoned Christians. “Because the other three are still in prison and [one of them] is very sick.”
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “We celebrate the release of Pastor Shamaal from Sudanese custody. Based on the release of Pastors Michael, Peter, and now Shamaal, we are hopeful for similar results in the remaining cases. The charges against Petr Jasek, and Pastors Hassan and Tawor are based on flimsy evidence, at best. We call on the international community to continue pressuring the Sudanese government to release Jasek, Hassan, and Abdumawla while refraining from re-arresting Pastor Shamaal and other Christian leaders in Sudan.”