By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and eleven members of his congregation were tried in Iran during Easter for their faith in Christ and are now awaiting the verdict.
Prosecutors charged these Christians with "crimes against the order," a charge often used in Iran as a cover for religious persecution; Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, told the Christian Post that these charges were based on accusations of drinking alcohol during communion and holding illegal meetings.
"Their defense," he said, "was that they were performing religious rituals that were protected by law."
During the trial, the judge threatened all twelve with apostasy, a crime that carries a death sentence in the Islamic Republic.
This is the second trial these Christians have faced: they were first tried and acquitted in a court in Bandar Anzali on the same charges, but this time, the Iranian regime tried them in Rasht: the same provincial court that convicted Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of apostasy and sentenced him to death by hanging.
However, this second trial violates Article 14(7) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights that states: "No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country."
The twelve on trial include Haghnejad's wife Anahita Khadeimi, Mahmoud Khosh-Hal, Hava Saadetmend, Amir Goldoust, Mina Goldoust, Zhaina Bahremand, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef, Behzad Taalipasand and Amin Pishkar.
Please continue to pray for Christians facing persecution in Iran and elsewhere.