Christian convert, 65, overturns first of three jail sentences on appeal 13th July 2020 News Sixty-five-year-old Iranian Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad has had his three-year jail sentence for “insulting Islamic sacred beliefs” overturned on appeal. Ismaeil was informed of the verdict yesterday by his lawyer, Farshid Roofoogaran. In the verdict, dated 5 July, the judge at the 17th Branch of the appeal court in Shiraz, Jamshid Kashkouli, accepted Mr Roofoogaran’s defence that Ismaeil had not been the originator of a social media joke insulting Islamic clerics – he had only responded with a smiley face emoji – and that anyway the clerics themselves are not considered “sacred” in Islam. Ismaeil is still awaiting the result of separate appeals against two further jail sentences – of one and two years, respectively – for “propaganda against the state” and membership of a “Zionist Evangelical Christian” group “hostile to the regime”. (Ismaeil is an Anglican Church member.) Background Ismaeil received his three-year sentence on 11 January, following a hearing on 8 January at Branch 105 of the Civil Court in Shiraz. He was sentenced under Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code, which provides for a punishment of between one and five years in prison. On 27 February, Ismaeil was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court to two years in prison for “membership of a group hostile to the regime”, under Article 499 of the Islamic Penal Code, which provides for three months to five years’ imprisonment. The judge at the 1st Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz, Seyed Mahmood Sadati, later ordered a retrial, which took place on 9 May 2020. Ismaeil was informed of the verdict a week later: he had been reconvicted of membership of a “Zionist Evangelical Christian” group “hostile to the regime” and convicted of the additional charge of “propaganda against the state”, for which he was given a separate one-year jail sentence. Having overturned the first of his three prison sentences, Ismaeil and his family are now anxiously awaiting the result of his appeals against the two remaining sentences.