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‘Church of Iran’ members acquitted ahead of Christmas

‘Church of Iran’ members acquitted ahead of Christmas

An appeals court in Karaj has acquitted two members of the “Church of Iran” of the serious crimes of “moharebeh” (waging war against God) and “spreading corruption on Earth”.

Reza Rabbani, known as Silas, and Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad, known as Matthias, were acquitted on 14 December. They had been charged on 17 September and detained for five and three months, respectively.

Their fellow “Church of Iran” member, Behnam Irani, who is already serving a six-year sentence, had also been threatened with these serious additional charges.

In October 2012, Silas and Matthias were also sentenced to six years in prison for “propagating Christianity”. The court ruled that they should serve their sentences in the southern city of Minab, on the other side of the country to their homes.

However, before the commencement of their sentences, Silas was arrested during a raid on his home in Karaj in May 2014, and Matthias was arrested two months later, alongside two fellow “Church of Iran” members, Mohammad Roghangir and Soroush Saraei, at his home in Bandar Anzali.

It was following these arrests that they were hit with the additional charges of moharebeh and “spreading corruption on Earth”.

Ahvaz Christians released

Meanwhile, two other “Church of Iran” members have been released after ten months in prison in Ahvaz. 

Hussein Baronzadeh, known as Daniel, and Rahman Bahmani, known as Zia, were arrested in March, along with six others – Amin Khaki, Hossein Etemadifar, Mohammad Bahrami, Salimeh Rahimi, known as Martha, Fatemeh Bagheri and Amineh Moalla – in the city of Shush. 

All of them were transferred to the General Intelligence Office of Khuzestan, located in Ahvaz. Five of them were released a few hours later after making a commitment to have no more involvement in Christian activities, but Daniel, Zia and Amin were transferred to Karun Prison in Ahvaz.

Amin remains there, serving a sentence on charges of “acting against national security”.