One Christian Prisoner Released on Extraordinary Bail; Others Still in Prison
By Jeremy Reynalds Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- The official trial of five Christian prisoners was held on Oct. 15, eight months after their arrest.
The five Christians
According to Mohabat News Service, the names of the Christians are: Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, Homayoun Shokouhi and his wife Fariba Nazemian.
Mohabat News reported that defendants Homayoun Shokouhi and Fariba Nazemian were absent from trial, for unknown reasons.
The other three Christian prisoners, Mojtaba Hosseini, Mohammad-Reza Partoei (Kourosh), Vahid Hakkani, were taken to court at 10 a.m. with their hands and feet chained together.
According to Mohabat News, this use of handcuffs and chains for prisoners of conscience and political prisoners is illegal according to Iranian prison regulations. The way they were transferred to court is the same method used for taking murderers. The three men were chained together so tightly that they were hardly able to walk.
A Mohabat News correspondent in Shiraz said the court session was held behind closed doors, and the families of the Christians were prevented from entering the courtroom.
Mohabat News said the judge asked the defendants a few short questions and postponed the trial, due to the absence of the other two defendants.
Judge Rashidi, said about Mojtaba Hosseini, “Because he had received a suspended sentence before and his case is still open, a suspended sentence should be applied to his case. This matter will be addressed in the next session.”
Mohabat News said Mojtaba Hosseini and Homayoun Shokouhi had been arrested in a house church by security authorities in 2008 for their Christian faith.
Mohabat News said the defendants were transferred to the infamous Adel-Abad prison after the session was over. Their hands and feet were again chained on the way back to the prison.
Judge Rashidi said the next trial would be held on Oct. 25.
Mohabat News said after court, Shokouhi and Nazemian’s son, Nima, was waiting outside the courtroom hoping for an opportunity to see his parents after spending months apart from them.
Mohabat News said Nima, 17, didn't know his parents were not brought to the court. He waited a long time, but didn't see them. Mohabat News said all the stress resulted in him having an epileptic seizure and passing out in the court hallway. Court officials and people in the building called an ambulance.
The judge also saw the crowd and asked what had happened. He asked to see Nima's mother, at the request of family and friends.
Fariba Nazemian Released on Bail
Mohabat News said some hours later, agents brought Nazemian before the judge. Asking questions about Christianity, the judge asked her to denounce her faith in Christ, so she could be released to go home and take care of her children. Nazemian declined the judge’s offer.
However, taking her son’s sickness into account and his need for care, the court freed Nazemian on a bail of about $204,000.
After issuing the temporary release order, Nazemian’s charges were listed as “forming an illegal group in favor of groups opposing the Islamic regime, acting against national security and insulting holy Islamic figures.”
Nazemian was temporarily released on Oct. 18. Her next trial-along with the four other defendants- is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is "Homeless in the City."