American Law Center Rebuts Claim of Retrial for Iranian Christian Pastor

Monday, 17 Oct 2011 12:31 PM

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The American Center for Law and Justice is sounding the alarm about erroneous reports that Iranian Pastor Yosef Nadarkhani will get a new trial instead of being hanged for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.

The Iranian media’s story line about the magnanimous opportunity for a retrial instead of the death penalty is a ruse to get people to forget about the case of Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for two years on charges of apostasy. Iran wants to silence the global outcry with its tale of a retrial because of concerns about the original conviction, the center says.

"What's worse is that the mainstream media has begun to run these [Iranian] reports as fact,"Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the law and justice center, told Christian Broadcast News.

Story continues below video.

The 34-year-old Nadarkhani, who converted to Christianity at the age of 19, was tried and convicted in December 2010. The pastor of several home congregations in a small Christian community called the Church of Iran, he has refused repeatedly to recant his faith.

The center has confirmed with Nadarkhani’s lawyer that there is no retrial. Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who previously had predicted that the final decision on the pastor’s appeal would come when Iran’s supreme court convenes on Oct. 10, told AFP on Oct. 6 that he expected the ruling within days.

The lawyer also has disputed rumors that the court intends to uphold the death sentence for apostasy, as well as trumped-up charges of security violations, rape, and Zionism that an Iranian official had added at the last minute, as Newsmax reported. That was the first time such additional charges had been mentioned since the case began in 2009, and many observers regarded them as piling on in an effort to rationalize the death penalty.

On Oct. 10, instead of a decision, the Iranian supreme court referred the matter to Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, to rule on whether Nadarkhani should be executed.

Dadkhah told CNN Friday that Khamenei reportedly is traveling, and he expects that decision in about a week.

He also said he fears that international pressure isn’t swaying Iranian leaders: “I don’t think the statements from the United States has had any impact either on this case as this is all going through the Iranian justice system, which is based on the law and evidence.”

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