IRAN – Iranian Christians sent to jail, unable to afford bail

Article18 | May 15, 2020

Ramin Hassanpour, his wife Kathrin Sajadpour, Moslem Rahimi and one other have been sent to Lakan Prison.

Four Iranian converts to Christianity have been sent to Lakan Prison in the northern city of Rasht, having been unable to afford the bail set for them.

Moslem Rahimi, Ramin Hassanpour and his wife Kathrin Sajadpour, and one other who does not wish to be named were arrested in February for their membership of a house-church. 

They appeared yesterday at Branch 10 of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht, where they were charged. 

The precise nature of the charges against them are as yet unclear, though they are certain to relate to their membership of the house-church, which are deemed by the Iranian regime to be “hostile” entities linked to foreign “Zionist” groups. 

Their bail was set at 500 million tomans each – the equivalent of around $30,000. Being unable to come up with the amount, they were transferred to Lakan Prison.

Ramin and Kathrin have two sons – one of whom is 16 years old and is now staying at home by himself, and the other just seven years old and who has therefore gone to stay with his grandfather.

The arrested Christians are part of the Rasht branch of the “Church of Iran”, a non-Trinitarian group, which has been especially targeted by the Iranian authorities.

Of the 15 Iranian Christians currently detained for their religious activities, 13 are from the “Church of Iran” in Rasht, including pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was once sentenced to death for apostasy.

The other two are from Tehran: Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, 58, and Majidreza Souzanchi.

All apart from Majidreza and the newly detained Christians are in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Majidreza was recently moved from Evin to the Greater Tehran Prison, upon the completion of his two-year sentence for membership of a house-church. He is now serving a separate two-year sentence for theft, a charge he has consistently denied. He was also sentenced to 74 lashes.

The other Christian detainees are Mohammad Reza (Yohan) OmidiZaman (Saheb) Fadaei and Mohammad Ali Mossayezbazeh, who are serving 10-year sentences alongside Yousef, and Abdolreza Haghnejad, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi, who are serving five-year sentences.

Nasser, Yousef, Saheb and Yohan are currently awaiting the outcome of their retrials against their 10-year sentences. Their families had hoped to hear news of the verdicts this Monday, but they still anxiously await news, having made several petitions for their loved ones to be released since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

Both Nasser and Saheb have suffered health issues, while Nasser is the oldest of those detained, so their families are especially concerned for them.