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Four Christians given combined 35 years in prison

Four Christians given combined 35 years in prison

Four Christian converts have been sentenced to a combined 35 years in prison.

Mehdi Akbari, Fatemeh Sharifi and Simin Soheilinia were given 10 years, and Mehdi Roohparvar five, all under the same charge of “acting against national security by forming a house-church”.

Very little is known about their case, but Article18 has been able to independently verify that Mehdi A and Mehdi R are both now serving their sentences in Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison.

It is therefore assumed that Fatemeh and Simin are in the women’s ward of the prison, but Article18 has not yet been able to verify this.

If confirmed, that would bring the total number of Christian prisoners of conscience currently in Evin to at least 17.

A further two Christians, Ebrahim Firouzi and Mohammad Reza (Youhan) Omidi, are currently in internal exile following their release from prison, while another, Majidreza Souzanchi, is now in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary on criminal charges he denies.

In total, that would mean 20 Iranian Christians are currently serving sentences either in prison or exile.

What is known about the latest case?

The latest case was first reported last month by Persian-language website humanrightsinir.org

According to that report, the combined 35-year prison sentences were handed down by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh – nicknamed the “Judge of Death” for his harsh treatment of prisoners of conscience – at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran on Saturday 24 October.

But little else is known about the case.

Indeed, the many unknowns are a good example of what Article18 and other rights groups have said for years: that the publicly reported cases are not to be viewed as comprehensive, because many other cases are not reported for a variety of reasons, such as fears that going public with a report could increase the likelihood of prosecution or severity of punishment.