Yesterday, the Sudanese government presented its case against Pastors Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith, who could face potential death sentences in Sudan because of their Christian faith. The government only brought one witness, who provided no new evidence against the Pastors.
When Pastors Michael and Peter’s attorney cross-examined the witness, he repeatedly asked for any evidence supporting any of the alleged offenses—joint acts in execution of criminal conspiracy, undermining the constitutional system, waging war against the state, espionage against the country, disclosure and obtaining information and official documents, promoting hatred amongst or against sects, disturbance of the public peace, and insulting religious creeds.
Each time, the government’s main witness stated he did not have any additional evidence. Reports from the trial state that the cross-examination was comical because, for every trumped-up charge, there were statements on the record that there was no evidence that the Pastors committed the crimes.
The trial will continue this Thursday and the prosecution is expected to conclude their case. The prosecution claims they will bring 3 new witnesses. Upon conclusion of the prosecution’s case, the judge must decide whether there is sufficient evidence to “charge” the Pastors with any or all of the offenses alleged against them. If he formally charges them with any or all of the alleged offenses, the Defense will be given an opportunity to put on its side of the case.
As we’ve previously reported, the conditions for Pastors Michael and Peter continue to deteriorate. In their new prison, they daily face solitary confinement while being shackled at their ankles. Their isolation from each other also weighs on them as formerly, the Pastors could keep company with each other providing spiritual encouragement.
We are also concerned with the conditions for nutrition within the prison. June 17, 2015 marks the start of Ramadan, a month of fasting during day light hours for Muslims. We are concerned that during the month of Ramadan Pastors Michael and Peter, though non-Muslims, will lack adequate nutrition.
At this time, the Pastors’ families’ have been denied visitation rights in the prison. The Pastors’ attorney was also denied visitation rights at the prison, though he was permitted to meet with his clients prior to the start of the trial yesterday. In accordance with international law, we urge the Sudanese government to allow regular family and legal visitation rights.
Time is running out. We must continue to pray for Pastors Michael and Peter. But we must also act.
Sign our petition to stand with us as we mobilize our international resources to fight for their freedom.
Your engagement has worked before to free Mariam Ibraheem from death row in Sudan.
We can do it again. Join us as we continue our work to seek justice for Pastors Michael and Peter.
UPDATE 6.18.2015: The government presented one more of the three believed remaining witnesses against Pastors Michael and Peter. As before, the witness presented no real evidence against the Christian pastors. The trial has been once again delayed to allow the government to present the two remaining witnesses. The trial against these two Christians pastors who could face the death penalty will resume on June 25th.
It is imperative that we continue to speak out for Pastors Michael and Peter. Below is a video of Christian mom Mariam Ibraheem (who we helped free from death row in Sudan last year and continue to work with) adding her voice to the fight to save these pastors' lives. Please join her and add your name to the petition (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.
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