Report from Open Doors.
After a full day of trial on Wednesday, July 1, a Sudanese judge found enough evidence to uphold charges against South Sudanese pastors, Yat Michael and Peter Yen, accused of seven crimes, two of which carry the death penalty.
The ruling is not a conviction, but means the defense must present evidence of the men’s innocence. The defense will have that opportunity on July 14. This leaves their lawyer, Muhaned Mustafa, with less than two weeks to prepare their case. And as things currently stand, he will have only 10 to 15 minutes prior to this hearing to prepare his clients.
At the end of those proceedings, the court will have the final opportunity to review all the evidence presented and drop the charges or convict the pastors.
During last Wednesday’s hearing the judge questioned both men about documents found on their computer after their arrests, which included internal church reports, maps that show the population and topography of Khartoum, Christian literature, and a study guide on the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).
“All of these materials, with the exception of the internal church report and the study guide on NISS, are publicly accessible materials,” explains the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ).
The pastors acknowledged having the internal church report, though both said they had never seen the study guide on NISS until it was presented in court. They had no knowledge of how it got on the computer.
Besides these documents, the only evidence brought by the prosecution against the Christian pastors was a sermon Pastor Michael gave on the Christian doctrines of their denomination.