Supreme Court summarily dismisses Christian convert’s long-awaited retrial bid

Supreme Court summarily dismisses Christian convert’s long-awaited retrial bid

Only one day after nine Christian converts were acquitted of “acting against national security” by worshipping in house-churches, another Christian convert serving a 10-year sentence on very similar grounds has been denied his own retrial.

Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, who is 60 years old, has served over four years of his 10-year prison sentence for “acting against national security with the intention to overthrow the regime”, due to alleged links to churches and Christian organisations abroad.

Ever since his imprisonment in January 2018, Nasser has been appealing to a higher court for a retrial, writing several open letters to query the charges against him, including asking how membership of a house-church could be viewed as an action against national security.

“Is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security?” he asked in one letter.

“Isn’t it in fact a clear violation of civil and human rights, and an absolute injustice, to receive a 10-year prison sentence just for organising house-churches, which are a sanctuary sanctified as a place to praise and worship God due to closure of churches in Iran?”

Finally, after three rejections of his applications for a retrial, as well as denials of either parole or even furlough, Branch 9 of the Supreme Court agreed to consider his case in January 2022.

But now, in a short verdict that gives little explanation, dated 19 February 2022 but only communicated to Nasser’s family this morning after repeated requests, his appeal for a retrial has been summarily dismissed.

In the ruling, the two presiding judges, Alireza Rahmani and Gholamreza Amini-Mehr, simply state that the request of Nasser’s lawyer, Iman Soleimani, has not met the requirements of Article 474 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding grounds for a retrial, and “therefore the request is rejected”.

Reacting to the judgment, Nasser’s lawyer said: “Unfortunately, the branches of the Supreme Court issue verdicts in an arbitrary way, without considering the rights of the accused.” 

Mr Soleimani added that the ruling was a contravention of Nasser’s civil rights and Iranian law, including the Code of Criminal Procedure, which stipulates that there cannot be different punishments for the same – or very similar – charge.

So while yesterday nine Christian converts were celebrating their acquittal – albeit one of them from prison and two more while facing new charges – today another convert is bemoaning his own continued incarceration.

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