As Judge Moghiseh—known as the “Judge of Death” for his harsh treatment of prisoners of conscience—spewed hatred, he told the believers, ““Your actions are worthy of death!”
Refusing to listen to their defense, citing only the intelligence agent’s report, he increased their bail to 7 billion tomans ($220,000).
Unable to pay, Mehdi Akbari, Fatemeh Sharifi and Simin Soheilinia were sentenced to 10 years in prison and Mehdi Roohparvar five. A combined 35 years in prison.
Until now, little was previously known about their case, other than that Akbari and Roohparvar were both being held in Ward 4 of Tehran’s Evin Prison, known as Iran’s “torture factory.”
Now, Persian-language website humanrightsinir.org, which first reported the arrests, has chronicled their difficult journey—offering a vivid illustration of how Christian converts from Islam to Christianity are unfairly treated in Iran’s legal and penal systems.
Two years of prison and exorbitant bail
- According to the new report, the four converts were first arrested two years ago on January 28, 2019 in Tehran during coordinated raids on their homes.
- From there, they were transferred to Ward 2A of Evin Prison where they were relegated to solitary confinement.
- The report notes that for 30 straight days, they were interrogated “severely” before being released on bail of 800 million tomans each ($62,500 at the time) on March 18, 2019, pending the outcome of their trial.
- Over a year later on June 16, 2020, they were tried on charges of “acting against national security” and “forming an illegal evangelical Christian group” under Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code, relating to the organization of groups “hostile” to the regime.
- They were also reportedly accused of “widespread association with missionary groups, as well as evangelical Christian groups outside the country in Russia, Georgia, Turkey, and Armenia.”
The two women were later freed on bail, but the men were transferred to Evin Prison where, for the first time, they finally heard they had been sentenced to prison and would spend the next five or 10 years behind bars.