Christians’ appeal hearing postponed again as court ‘too crowded’

Christians’ appeal hearing postponed again as court ‘too crowded’

Left to right: Victor Bet-Tamraz, his wife Shamiram, Kavian Fallah-Mohammadi, Amin Afshar-Naderi, and Hadi Asgari.

Yet another scheduled hearing in the drawn-out cases of five Christians facing between five and 15 years in prison was postponed today.

Assyrian pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz and his wife Shamiram are facing ten and five years in prison, respectively. Converts to Christianity Hadi Asgari and Fallah-Mohammadi also face ten years in prison, while fellow convert Amin Afshar-Naderi faces 15 years.

But it is now nearly two and a half years since the sentences against Victor and the four converts were pronounced, while Shamiram has also been waiting nearly two years for her own appeal to be heard.

The case against the Christians has drawn international attention as a result of the advocacy efforts of Victor and Shamiram’s daughter, Dabrina, and a campaign by Amnesty International.

Reacting to the latest development today – or lack thereof – Dabrina told Article18 the judge had said the court was “too crowded” and there were “too many cases”, so there “wouldn’t be time” to hear the Christians’ case.

When their lawyers asked when the next hearing may take place, they were given no answer.

Dabrina said she thinks that “because of everything that’s going on at the moment” – Iran has just this past week been the subject of a UN review into its human rights record – “they’re trying to buy some time for themselves and let the situation calm down before they make a decision regarding my parents”.

Dabrina added that the continuing postponements of scheduled hearings is preventing her parents from moving on with their lives.

“It’s different for my mum and dad – my mum is more anxious, she just wants to know, whatever happens, whether they go to prison or not. My dad is happier that it didn’t take place, but it does leave them in that state of not knowing what’s going to happen, and it’s nerve-racking every time you get a new court hearing date, and then nothing … and again … and then the whole time you’re nervous – what’s going to happen tomorrow?” 

“And it also doesn’t allow us to plan ahead, and it limits their lives so much, and everything they want to do, because every time they say, ‘Well let’s see what the court says; we’ll have to wait and see what will happen, and then we can plan’.”

Dabrina added that yesterday and today had been “awful, really awful” for her, as she waited to hear what happened.

“I was worried that the publicity I’ve done would backfire, and then I would really blame myself,” she said. “And the whole situation now – they’re being more strict on Christians; they’re not pardoning anybody, which makes you more concerned.”

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