Iranian Christians request prayer for an appeal hearing on 1 June to review prison sentences given to Assyrian pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, and three Christian converts.
The hearing combines three long-standing cases. The first involves Pastor Victor of the Assyrian Assemblies of God, and two Persian Christian converts, Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, who were arrested at a December 2014 Christmas celebration. The second case also involves Amin Nader Afshari, re-arrested in August 2016 at a picnic with another convert, Hadi Asgar. The third involves Shamiram, Pastor Victor’s wife, summoned by authorities in June 2017. Between them they are facing 55 years in prison.
In July 2017 Pastor Victor was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for ‘acting against national security.’ Hadi and Kavian also each received ten-year prison sentences while Amin was given fifteen years’ imprisonment, all on similar charges. In January 2018 Shamiram was sentenced to five years in prison for “membership of a group with the purpose of disrupting national security” and another five years for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
At a February 2019 appeal hearing, the presiding judge, Ahmed Zargar, decided to combine Shamiram’s case with the others.
A hearing for the combined cases, scheduled for September 2019, was postponed when the judge failed to appear. A November 2019 hearing was also postponed because the court house was “too crowded.”
A 24 February 2020 hearing was postponed because a summons for Hadi had not been served and a new judge was appointed to work on the case under Ahmed Zargar.
The on-going judicial proceedings, delays and postponements continue to be stressful for the defendants and their families.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- The case will be reviewed correctly and that the judge will overturn the heavy and unjust prison sentences
- The lawyer representing the defendants will have wisdom to argue their case well
- The Lord will grant his special peace to the defendants in court and their families