TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– An Iranian court has given prosecutors a week to prove that five Christians of a large evangelical house church denomination are guilty of blasphemy, which carries the death penalty in Iran, a senior church official told BosNewsLife Wednesday, April 6.
Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Parviz Khalaj, Mohammed Beliad and his wife Nazly Makarian Beliad, members of the Church of Iran, faced a trial Tuesday, April 5, in the southern city of Shiraz.
A judge concluded that, “The prosecutor did not produce any evidence of blasphemy against Islamic values,” said Firouz Khanjani, a council member of the Church of Iran who monitored the proceedings.
However Iran’s influential “political police” is “placing pressure on the judge, so a new trial date was set for April 12 to give [the prosecution] a week to produce new evidences against the Christians,” Khanjani told BosNewsLife.
He said Iranian police “consider the expression of Christian faith by former Muslims as a blasphemy against the superiority of Islam.”
The five Christians already received a one-year prison sentence for “crimes against the Islamic Order”, a charge that rights activists have linked to their Christian activities.
Their lawyer has appealed the one-year prison sentence, and a decision is pending, trial observers said.