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ICC Note:

An Iranian judge accused of repeatedly facilitating the miscarriage of justice will oversee an appeal hearing launched by a pastor and three other Christians who have been accused by authorities of engaging in dangerous Christian activities. The appeal is expected to take place on October 4th and follows a hearing held in July which sentenced each individual to 10 years imprisonment. In July 2016, the three other Christians were sentenced to 80 lashes apiece after being convicted for drinking wine during communion. They are also awaiting the outcome of this appeal.

09/02/2017 Iran (BosNews Life) An Iranian judge known for his harsh sentences will supervise the appeal hearing launched by a well-known pastor and three other Iranian Christians against their long prison sentences for what authorities consider dangerous Christian activities, BosNewsLife learned Friday, September 1.

Evangelical Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani along with the other devoted Christians Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, and Saheb Fadaie was expected to face the court Monday, September 4.

Christians with close knowledge about the situation said the four Iranian believers would meet Judge Ahmad Zargar, head of the 36th Branch of the Tehran Appeals Court. Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said that “Judge Zargar…was among several Iranian officials deemed responsible or complicit
in serious human rights violations in 2012.”

He was also one of six judges accused in 2014 of “having lost judicial impartiality and overseeing miscarriages of justice in trials involving journalists, lawyers, political activists and members of Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities,” CSW added.

His name is currently among those targeted for financial sanctions by Britain, the group explained.

News that the judge will oversee the appeals hearing came as a setback for the four Christians who belong to the Church of Iran denomination, one of the largest house church movements in the Islamic nation.

In July 2017, the head judge of the 26th Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran, Judge Ahmadzadeh, found them guilty of ‘acting against national security’ by ‘promoting Zionist Christianity,’ and sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment each.

Pastor Nadarkhani, who earlier faced the death penalty for refusing to abandon Islam but was later released, and Omidi also received additional two-year sentences, to be served in what critics have called “an inhospitable area” in the south of the country.

All four men were detained in May last year during a series of raids by security agents on Christian homes in the coastal city of Rasht and charged with ‘acting against national security.’

Mossayebzadeh, Fadaie, and Omidi are also awaiting the outcome of their appeal against a sentence of 80 lashes each that was handed down in 2016, following their conviction for drinking wine during a communion service.

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