Nepal's Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a native Nepali missionary with Gospel for Asia (GFA), despite compelling evidence indicating that he is innocent of the charges, according to GFA President K.P. Yohannan. The verdict came down on Thursday, July 1, around two years after evangelist Manja Tamang allegedly committed the crime.
"They decided that they would uphold the judgment that was made previously that they would not free him," Yohannan said. "This was quite shocking and sad news because of the tremendous amount of evidence presented showing that Tamang was innocent."
GFA first reported on Tamang's imprisonment February 25, 2002, after Tamang was arrested on false murder charges and sentenced to 20 years in prison. An appeal in the case was filed with the Supreme Court of Nepal in August 2002, leading to his first scheduled hearing before the Supreme Court in Kathmandu in November. However, the hearing was postponed and rescheduled several times before the case was actually heard in June 2003. As the result of the indecision of the judges to settle on one verdict, the hearing has continued to linger since then. GFA reported that it often takes many hearings and cancellations before a case is fully decided.
Yohannan mentioned that when he saw last saw Tamang while visiting him in prison, Tamang spoke of "his confidence in God's sovereign plan and that God will fulfill His plan, no matter what."
After hearing of Thursday's verdict, Yohannan commented, "Surely this is very serious and disappointing news for Christian workers at large, knowing that something like this is so obvious that he's framed, that justice was not done at this time."
However, even though he's behind bars, Tamang is reportedly ministering and evangelizing. Yohannan says he has been holding Bible studies daily in prison for 25 people. Phenzing, 24, a former cellmate commented, "I was greatly influenced by watching Manja in prison. I wanted to be like him in speech, thought, knowledge and everyday life."
GFA reported that though Tamang was sad and deeply disappointed upon hearing the verdict, he responded with trust in the Savior. "God is in control," Tamang stated. "God has a plan, and in His sovereign grace and foreknowledge, He has allowed some of His chosen servants to be put in prison." He went on to say that even in prison, he would keep witnessing and leading others to Christ.
GFA leaders say they will appeal the case to Nepal's King Gyanendra on Tamang's behalf.