The appeal hearing scheduled for 24 February to review the sentences of Assyrian pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, his wife Shamiram Issavi Khabizeh, and three Christian converts has been postponed once again.
Three long-standing related cases have been combined and are under review. The first involves Pastor Victor and Persian Christian converts Amin Nader Afshari and Kavian Fallah Mohammadi, who were arrested at a Christmas celebration in December 2014. The second case also involves Amin Nader Afshari, who was re-arrested in August 2016 with another convert, Hadi Asgar. The third involves Shamiram, summoned by the authorities in June 2017.
Pastor Victor was sentenced in July 2017 to ten years’ imprisonment for ‘acting against national security.’ Amin, Hadi and Kavian also received prison sentences of between ten and fifteen years 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 in prison for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.”
At an appeal hearing in Shamiram’s case in February 2019, the judge, Ahmed Zargar, decided to combine her case with the two other cases.
A court hearing for the combined cases was scheduled for September 2019, but was postponed after the judge failed to appear. Another court hearing scheduled for November 2019 was also postponed, apparently because the court house was “too crowded.” The latest hearing was postponed after a summons for Hadi had failed to be dispatched. A new judge has been appointed to oversee the appeal. Pastor Victor and Shamiram’s daughter, Dabrina Bet Tamraz, commented that the new judge seems to be more reasonable and sensible than previous ones. No date has yet been scheduled for a new hearing.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- There would be a conclusion to these long-standing cases and that the new judge will rule justly and have the courage to overturn the sentences
- The Lord will encourage the defendants and their families
- The Iranian regime will stop oppressing religious minorities, including Christians