Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
ISTANBUL (Compass Direct News) – Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani refused to recant his Christian faith yesterday at the fourth and final court hearing in Iran to appeal his death sentence for apostasy (leaving Islam). Applying sharia (Islamic law), the court in Rasht gave Nadarkhani, 35, a final chance to recant Christianity and return to Islam in order for his life to be spared. Nadarkhani refused.
At an appeal hearing in June, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Nadarkhani’s sentence but asked the court in Rasht to determine if he was a practicing Muslim before his conversion. The court declared that although Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim before his conversion, he was still guilty of apostasy due to his Muslim ancestry, a source close to Nadarkhani’s family told Compass.
A defense lawyer told Nadarkhani’s family and friends there is a way to take the case back to the Supreme Court or extend Nadarkhani’s prison sentence, but the source said the directives of the Supreme Court were clear and he didn’t think there was much hope. It is critical for foreign governments to negotiate and engage in diplomacy with Iranian authorities about Nadarkhani’s case, the source said, adding that advocates in the international community fear that authorities may execute Nadarkhani as early as midnight tonight or any time in the coming week. The court said a verdict on Nadarkhani would be issued within the next week. “They probably won’t kill him today, but they can do it whenever they want,” the source said. “Sometimes in Iran they call the family and deliver the body with the verdict.”