Saturday, January 30, 2010

Imprisoned pastor's appeal for freedom is denied

Imprisoned pastor's appeal for freedom is denied
Saturday, 30 January 2010, 11:41 (EST)

A Cuban Evangelical Pastor has been denied the right to appeal his
six-year prison sentence by the Supreme Tribunal in Havana.

Pastor Omar Gude Perez, a leader in a fast growing network of
independent churches called the 'Apostolic Reformation', was convicted
of "falsification of documents" after trumped up charges were made
against him during a summary trial last July.

In a statement to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Pastor Gude
Perez's wife said the court's decision confirmed her belief that her
husband's arrest and imprisonment in May 2008 was orchestrated at the
highest levels of government.

Pastor Gude Perez was initially charged with Human Trafficking, but a
local court threw out the charges ten months later, citing a total lack
of evidence. The latest charge was brought against him a full year after
his initial detention. The prosecution's petition also accused the
pastor of "counter-revolutionary conduct and attitudes."

Another key pastor in the Apostolic Reformation network is currently
contesting government efforts to evict him from his home and confiscate
his property. Pastor Mario Alvarez has appealed to the Supreme Tribunal
to prevent what he believes is the illegal confiscation of his home. At
least thirty other church leaders from the same network were arrested
and detained in various parts of the country during 2009, and several
report that the authorities were threatening to confiscate their homes.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW's Chief Executive said: "We are extremely
disappointed to learn of the Supreme Tribunal's decision to refuse
Pastor Gude Perez's right of appeal. The number of church leaders
arrested recently clearly indicates a government policy to crack down on
this independent religious group. We urgently call for the immediate
release of Pastor Perez and strongly urge the Cuban government to stop
legal harassment of the leadership of the Apostolic Reformation."

Cuba - imprisoned pastor's appeal for freedom is denied (30 January 2010)

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