Iranian Court Orders Retrial of Pastor Sentenced to Death

Posted October 11th, 2011 at 10:15 am (UTC-5)
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Iran's supreme court Tuesday ordered a retrial for an Iranian Christian pastor who was sentenced to death for renouncing his Muslim religion.

A state news report said that the high court sent back the case to a lower court because of problems associated with the initial investigation of Youcef Nadarkhani. The case has drawn international condemnation from religious and rights groups.

The 32-year-old converted to Christianity at the age of 19 and became a pastor of a 400-person Church of Iran congregation in the northern city of Rasht. He was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to death on a conviction of apostasy — or abandoning his Muslim faith.

In late September, the United States and Britain condemned his death sentence and reports that his execution was imminent.

Rights groups have demanded Iran free the pastor. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has called the conviction a “low point” for the Iranian judicial system.