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02/26/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – For at least the third time, the appeal hearing for five Iranian Christians has been postponed. Originally three cases that were later combined into a single case, the first appeal hearing was scheduled for September 2019. When the judge failed to appear, the court hearing was rescheduled for November 2019. At that time, the judge said the court house was “too crowded” and pushed the court hearing.

This most recent appeal was scheduled to occur on February 24th. Although a new judge has been appointed for the appeal that appears more reasonable than those previous, the continual postponement does not incite confidence for the Iranian Christians.

The cases include Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz and 2 Christian converts, Amin Nader Afshari and Kavaian Fallah Mohammadi, who were all arrested at a Christmas celebration over 6 years ago in December 2014. The second case also includes Afshari who was arrested for a second time in August 2016 with another convert, Hadi Asgar. The final case involves Pastor Victor’s wife Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh who was summoned by authorities in June 2017. Shamiram’s case was eventually merged with the other two cases a year ago in February 2019.

All five of the Iranian Christians have received a sentencing, ranging from 10 years to 15 years, primarily under charges for “acting against national security”. Mohammadi commented to Middle East Concern saying, “I was surprised when I was arrested five years ago without any previous warning, and I didn’t know for what reason. It’s unbelievable that a person be charged with a heavy charge such as acting against national security just for attending the church, and then be sentenced to ten years in prison! After more than five years, my case still isn’t resolved. During these five years I have been living with uncertainties, disconnected from my homeland, and my family.”

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