Trial Begins for Two Pastors Detained In Sudan

The Rev. Peter Yein Reith. (Morning Star News)
The Rev. Peter Yein Reith. (Morning Star News)

Two Christian pastors from South Sudan have found out that a visit north to Sudan can be both time consuming and deadly.

Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA, says one of the men was doing what pastors do: preaching the Bible. He was invited to speak at a church in Sudan and was arrested. Then, “about a week later, the other pastor went to inquire at the National Intelligence Service: ‘What’s going on with this guy who was arrested? What’s happening with his case?’ He, too, was arrested.”

Yat Michael Ruot and Peter Yein Reith have been in custody since the beginning of the year. Why is this story making headlines now? Nettleton explains, “Their trial is ongoing; they had a hearing yesterday in Khartoum. If they are convicted on all these charges, they could face the death penalty.”

The trial actually opened on May 31, after a two-week delay. The charges? “Now remember, this is a man who stood up and spoke in a church, but charges against them are ‘waging war against the State’ and ‘spying.’” Nettleton confirms that the pair also was charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs.” How the Sudanese government arrived at these charges is still a mystery. Nettleton says, “They basically have been charged with Intelligence crimes, and there really doesn’t seem to be any background for that or any reason for that.”

Citing a story from Fox News, Nettleton adds, “There is a report out that the National Intelligence Service offered to release them if the payment of a very large bail was made, so there is some suggestion that perhaps this is just simply a shakedown.” However, the real lesson in this story comes from an earlier account about a Christian woman being held in Sudan’s prisons, facing death for apostasy. “What we learned from the case of Meriam Ibrahim is that the Sudanese government, even though it is a radical Islamic government, they are a government that is concerned about public perception.”

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Ruth Kramer

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