Two South Sudanese pastors being held in Omdurman prison in Khartoum could face the death penalty for alleged charges of disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces, breach of public peace, and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs.
Two South Sudanese pastors who are being held in Omdurman prison in Khartoum could face the death sentence. World Watch Monitor reported in February that Yat Michael and Peter Yen (also named as David Yein Reith in some reports) were held in unknown locations after being arrested during a visit to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, from their homes in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.
On 4 May they were charged with a series of offences, two of which – undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state – carry the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Michael was taken into custody last year, on 21 December after preaching that morning at the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) Khartoum Bahri congregation. Michael and his wife had taken their child to Khartoum for medical attention but had been asked to preach at a church during their visit, sources told World Watch Monitor.
Yen was arrested on 11 January after he delivered a letter to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum asking about his colleague Michael’s arrest in December. Both men belong to the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church. Their case was postponed until this week due to the availability of a representative of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The lawyer representing the two men believes the charges against them will be dropped, but the involvement of the NISS may lead to a different outcome.
On Tuesday 19 May, Michael and Yen would have stood charged with disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces, breach of public peace, and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs. They also face charges of undermining the constitutional system, and waging war against the state, which carry the possibility of harsher penalties. Yesterday, the judge, however, postponed the trail a further 12 days.
While South Sudan has a largely Christian population, Sudan is predominantly Muslim. However, many thousands of Southern Sudanese who fled the long civil war to live in the north are now so rooted there, they choose to remain. Open Doors requests prayer for pastors Michael and Yen, and their families.