Sudan frees pastor from prison, but another Christian minister still faces possible death row

Sudan has freed Pastor Kuwa Shamal from prison, but another Christian pastor who was arrested and tried alongside him is still facing the possibility of death row over false espionage charges.

(REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)A South Sudanese worshipper arrives to attend Sunday prayers in Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, February 10, 2013.

Pastor Shamal was released from jail last Monday, but companion Rev. Hassan Abduraheem's case will still continue. The two pastors have stood trial with two other men over charges of espionage and agitating hatred between classes, charges that the American Center for Law and Justice asserts are false.

According to the trial judge, there is no solid evidence against Shamal in the espionage case. However, the same judge said Abduraheem and his other companions - Petr Jasek and Adbulmonem Abdumawla - will continue facing trial, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports.

Abduraheem has been detained for more than a year for helping a young boy with his medical needs. Jasek went to Khartoum in December to meet Ali Omer, who was injured in a 2013 protest, to donate $5000 for the needed medical treatment.

Abduraheem facilitated their meeting, while Abdumawla was collecting funds for his friend Omer. When Jasek was leaving Khartoum, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service seized his belongings at the airport and accused him of donating $5,000 to support rebel movements.

"In reality, none of them have committed the serious crimes with which they have been charged,"said CSW chief executive Mervyn Thomas in a statement. "We urge the Sudanese government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of these men, who have been detained since December 2015, simply for an act of kindness."

In light of the situation, ACLJ has launched a petition demanding the release of Pastor Abduraheem, which has since garnered more than 113,000 signatures. The organization also sent a letter to Dr. Awad Al-Hassan Al-Noor, Sudan's Minister of Justice, to outline the legal reasons why the Christian pastor must be released from prison.

Pastor Abduraheem's attorneys have already finished laying out his defense and will submit their final arguments for the case next Monday. The judge is reportedly expected to make a decision by Jan. 23.