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Khartoum bans South Sudanese pastors from leaving

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August 7, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities have prevented two South Sudanese pastors from leaving the country after a court cleared them of spying charges and ordered their release, a source close to the case told Agence France Presse (AFP) Thursday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday “the pastors went to the airport to travel abroad but the authorities prevented them and told them they were banned from travelling”.

However, the source declined to say to where the men had been attempting to travel, and it was unclear how long the travel restrictions would last.
Police could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, a Khartoum court has acquitted Reverend Yat Michael and Reverend Peter Yen – of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (PEC) of charges pertaining to espionage and inciting tribal sentiments and ordered their immediate release.

The two pastors have been detained by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Khartoum at two separate occasions.

Michael, a visiting pastor from South Sudan, was taken into custody last December after giving a service at the Khartoum North church of the PEC.

Reverend Peter Yen was also visiting Khartoum when he was arrested last January after responding to a summons to report to an office of the NISS.

The two pastors faced charges under articles (26), (50), (51), (53), (62) and (125) of the Sudanese penal code. Some of those charges are punishable by death.

The judge convicted them on one lesser charge each but cleared them on the others.

He considered that the eight months that the two pastors had so far spent in prison is sufficient enough to serve as their punishment.

South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011, six years after the signing of a peace deal that ended 22 years of bloody civil war.

(ST)

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