Afghan Court Drops Case Against Christian Convert

The case against Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Christian who faces execution for his conversion from Islam, has been referred to the attorney general's office in Kabul amid fears for the man's mental health.

Published 27 March 2006
|PIC1|An Afghan court has dropped its case against a Christian convert that has been the subject of international outcry over the last week. The decision was made amid fears for the man’s mental health.

Supreme Court spokesman, Wakil Omari, told AFP that the court decided not to continue with the trial against 41-year-old Abdul Rahman following a testimony that he was mentally ill.

Omari said that both Rahman’s cousin Abdul Manir and his daughter Maria had both testified that Rahman, who converted to Christianity 16 years ago in Pakistan, was not mentally fit.

The case has now been referred to attorney general’s office in Kabul which will decide whether to proceed or abandon with the case.

Omari said Sunday that the prosecutor’s investigation was likely to include medical tests.

|TOP|"The attorney general has the authority to either send back the case to this or any court or even can decide" to release him, Omari said.

The Supreme Court said last week that Rahman must revert back to Islam or face the prospect of execution, legal under Sharia law which provides much of the basis for the country’s constitution.

The trial has met with a storm of indignation worldwide, particularly from the US, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Nations.

Pope Benedict XVI appealed last week for clemency to be granted to the Christian convert to be granted towards Rahman, expressing his solidarity with all persecuted Christians around the world.

|AD|In his statement made at the window of his Vatican study during the Angelus prayer, the pope said the Church was “close to all Christians who suffer persecution for the sake of their faith...including the sacrifice of those who have been killed”.

"My thoughts turn particularly towards communities living in countries where religious freedom does not exist or exists on paper but is subject to numerous restrictions,” he said.

He also offered victims of persecution “warm encouragement to persevere in the patience and love of Christ,” as well as his “profound solidarity on behalf of the entire Church”.

According to the ANSA news agency, a letter on behalf of the pope was written to the Afghan president by the pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, concerning the fate of the Christian convert Abdul Rahman”.

An English language statement from the Vatican said the letter had been spurred by “deep feelings of human compassion...for faith and dignity of human life...for respect by all for freedom of conscience and religion”.

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, the Rt Rev David Lacy urged the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to “continue to make vigorous protest to the Afghan authorities” against the trial.

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