Charges Dropped, but Pastor Remains in Prison

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

kazakhstan christianASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN (Worthy News)-- Although charges of "propagating extremism" leveled against a 67-year-old Presbyterian pastor were dropped Wednesday by a court in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana, the minister still remains in prison, according to International Christian Concern.

Pastor Bakhytzhan Kashkumbayev was first arrested last May following allegations that he laced a red tea used for communion with hallucinogens, harming the health of parishioner Lyazzat Almenova.

"While we are certainly pleased to hear that the completely untenable charges of propagating extremism have been dropped in Pastor Kashkumbayev's case, we are still alarmed that the court has chosen to maintain the charge of harming a parishioner," said Ryan Morgan, regional manager for International Christian Concern. "How the judge could make this decision is difficult to understand, given that the very parishioner the pastor has been accused of harming has publicly claimed she was never harmed by him."

According to Forum 18, Almenova said she was used by the state as a pretext to begin a case against her pastor, who in turn has written a desperate plea to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for international intervention into his unwarranted detention.

"I cannot boast of ideal health since I had a serious heart attack in 2011 with chronic otitis of both ears, varicose veins in my legs, chronic bronchitis, chronic gastritis," wrote Kashkumbayev. "I am psychologically healthy [but] it will not take much for the authorities to make me a vegetable ...

"I am begging you to protect me."