By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
PRAGUE/KHARTOUM (BosNewsLife)– The Czech Republic has condemneda Sudanese court’s ruling that sentenced a Czech missionary and film maker to 20 years imprisonment, while a local pastor and a Christian activist reportedly received a 12 years jail term.
Shortly after Sunday’s ruling, Czech officials pledged to do everything they can to secure the release of missionary Petr Jašek, who was detained in Sudan in 2015 on controversial spying and anti-regime charges.
Pastor Hassan Abdel Rahim and the activist Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Mawla were sentenced for rendering “criminal assistance” to Jašek, “disseminating false information about the country” and “inciting hatred against religious communities”, Sudanese media reported.
Advocacy group Release International said previously that Jašek and several others had done nothing more than “shown compassion” for a student who had been badly burnt at a demonstration. Jašek helped with funds for his medical bills.
A spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry, Michaela Lagronová, said securing Jašek’s release from prison was an “absolute priority” for the Czech Republic.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek was expected to travel to Khartoum, the capital, to meet with his Sudanese counterpart to discuss the missionary’s release. It was not immediately clear what, if anything, the Czech Republic would do for the other detained Christians.Petr Jasek, 52, had been in a Sudanese prison since December, 2015, for making a video showing what he described as persecution of Christians in the Islamic country, including the bombardment of civilian populated areas in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State..
The judge of North Khartoum court, Osama Ahmed Abdallah, reportedly sentenced the Czech national for “spying against Sudan” and disseminating reports – via an “American organization hostile to Sudan”.
The judge also claimed that Jašek had been filming military areas, “provoking hatred against religious communities and spreading false news” about the country. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 Sudanese pound ($15.500) for violating the Sudanese humanitarian law.
In October 2016, the European Parliament condemned the detention of the Czech Christian aid worker in a resolution on human rights in Sudan, and urged the Sudanese government to release rights activists, and respect freedom of religion.