Middle East and North Africa

Christian prisoners forced to sign blank paper before Iran trial

Mohammad Ali Torabi and Abdol-Ali Pourmand charged with apostasy in Iran. Photo: Mohabat News

Two Christian converts awaiting trial have been forced to sign a blank page each, prompting speculation that this is a new tactic by Iranian authorities to target Christians.

The fear of human rights observers is that that the Iranian authorities will use these to procure fake recantations of their Christian faith, or false confessions as evidence against the men. The judicial authorities have denied the men bail, and they are to remain in jail until further notice.

Two Christian converts, Mohammad Ali Torabi and Abdol-Ali Pourmand, were scheduled to attend trial on 22 November at Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Ahwaz, south-western Iran, which is where most apostasy cases are handled.  The penalty for apostasy in sharia is death.

It was previously reported that Mr Pourmand, a Christian convert arrested on 19 October, has been prohibited from hiring a lawyer to represent him. Mr Torabi was arrested at his workplace in Dezful on 10 October.