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Iran

Iran court drops jail terms of three Christian clerics: NGO

The trio were arrested in 2011 in Karaj, where they had set up underground churches

AFP, Nicosia

AFP, Nicosia

Updated: December 16, 2014 03:46 PM GMT
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Iran court drops jail terms of three Christian clerics: NGO

Pastor Behnam Irani (Credit: Present Truth Ministries)

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Three Christian clerics sentenced to six years' jail in Iran on "national security" charges have been acquitted on appeal, a Christian rights association said Tuesday.

Christian Solidary Worldwide said Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani had been released but Pastor Behnam Irani remained in Karaj jail, west of Tehran, for a separate conviction.

The three were arrested in 2011 in Karaj, where they had set up underground churches.

They were found guilty in October on charges of "action against national security" and of "creating a network to overthrow the system".

An appeals court in the Islamic republic dropped the charges in a hearing on December 9, said the Britain-based association.

"We continue to call on the Iranian government to... allow the country's religious minorities to enjoy freedom of religion or belief as guaranteed under Iran's own constitution," the NGO said.

The Iranian constitution recognizes the rights of certain religious minorities, including Christians, but apostasy is punishable by death under the country's Islamic sharia laws. AFP

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