Branch 9 of the Supreme Court rejected the imprisoned Christian convert Naser Navard Goltappeh’s request for a retrial for the fourth time. He is currently serving a 10 year sentence in Evin Prison. Despite suffering from oral and dental diseases and severe visual impairment, he has been denied medical treatment in prison.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, his lawyer, Iman Soleymani, called the Supreme Court’s decisions arbitrary and erratic. He told HRANA that “the Supreme Court issued its verdict regardless of defendant’s rights, which is in violation of citizen rights and the principle of legality of crime and punishments, the principle of innocence and Article 474 of the Criminal Procedure Code whereby different punishment in degrees for similar charges is not allowed”.
“His request has invoked the recent retrial of nine Christian converts which subsequently led to their acquittal”, he added. In November of last year, Branch 28 of the Supreme Court of Iran announced that promoting Christianity and forming a home church is neither a crime nor an act against national security.
On June 24, 2016, Naser Navard Goltappeh was arrested along with three people of Azerbaijan nationality. All four were interrogated for two months and detained in solitary confinement cells. After four months, they were released on bail of 100 million tomans. The Azerbaijani citizens returned to their country after the release.
Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Goltappeh to 10 years in prison on the charge of “acting against national security by organizing an illegal home church”. The verdict was upheld on appeal on November 12, 2017.
He is currently serving his sentence in Ward 8 of Evin Prison.
Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, security forces nevertheless harass and prosecute Muslims who convert to Christianity.
The prosecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.