The trial of four Sudan Christian pastors who are facing the death penalty was postponed for the second time.
The judge adjourned the trial until Oct. 17, saying the prosecution was not prepared for the hearing.
At the hearing held Monday in Khartoum, the prosecution presented videos showing rebels in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan receiving aid. The defense then questioned the videos’ relevance to the charges against the four, who are being accused of spying, according to World Watch Monitor.
The judge found the defense lawyers’ question reasonable, causing him to adjourn the trial. He told the prosecution to be more prepared when hearing assumes next month.
The four defendants included pastors Hassan Abduraheem Taour and Kuwa Shamal, Darfuri graduate Abdulmonem Abdumawla and Czech national Petr Jasek, who was an aid worker.
Jasek, Abduraheem, Shamal and Abdumawla are charged with committing several crimes threatening national security and punishable by the death penalty, including espionage and waging war against the state. Additionally, Jasek is accused of spreading false news, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
The charges against Jasek, Abduraheem and Abdumawla were based on the fact that they helped a man from Darfur named Ali Omer, who was injured during a protest at Quran Karim University last year, leaving him in need of medical treatment.
Jasek apparently learned about Omer while attending an international conference in November, where Abduraheem shared the story of Omer. Jasek told Abduraheem he would donate money for Omer’s treatment. Shamal was also present in the conference.
Jasek did visit Omer the following month through the help of Abduraheem and gave the young man $5,000. Abdumawla, Omer’s friend, was the one who collected the financial donations.
As he was about to leave the country, Jasek was held at the Sudan airport after NISS agents found a receipt for $5,000 with his belongings. They immediately arrested him and took hold of his phone, camera and laptop.
Authorities accused Jasek of giving money to the rebels in South Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile, manipulating the fact that the people he was connected to resided in these areas. Abdumawla was a resident of Darfur while Abduraheem and Shamal were residents of the Nuba Mountains.
More than a week after Jasek’s detention, the three others were also arrested. Although Shamal was not involved in the incident, authorities arrested him because of his connection with Abduraheem and his position in church.
Authorities formally charged all four in August.
“The case against Reverends Abduraheem and Shamal comes at a time when severe restrictions are being applied against Christians by the government though NISS, which has arrested six clergymen and two lay members from three denominations since December 2015, requiring them to report to their offices daily as a condition of release,” CSW wrote.
The four are not the only church leaders charged with crimes that bear the capital punishment. In 2015, authorities in Sudan also charged pastors Yat Michael and Peter Reith with crimes punishable by the death penalty. They were released in August of the same year.