The case of our brother in Iran has taken yet another bizarre turn. Despite the reports yesterday that his case was in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, it is now being reported that the Iranian Supreme Court has remanded the case back to the original trial court. According to Reuters via Arab News:
TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme court sent back the case of a Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy to the lower court that tried him, saying there had been insufficient investigation before the original trial, students news agency ISNA said on Tuesday.
Yousof Nadarkhani, 33, was arrested and sentenced to death in the northern city of Rasht in 2009. An appeals court upheld his sentence last year after he refused to reconvert to Islam, his lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told Reuters last week.
“The Supreme Court has returned the case of Nadarkhani to the lower court that originally issued the death sentence … The decision was made due to insufficient investigations,” ISNA quoted a statement issued by the judiciary.
“The court will issue a new verdict … if Nadarkhani appeals the verdict then the case will be sent again to the Supreme Court,” the statement said.
I don’t pretend to know anything about the Iranian legal system, and the, shall we say, Byzantine ways of Iranian politics are often impenetrable. But I’m guessing that the key expression here is “insufficient investigations.” What this means, I think, is that the provincial court and government have been sent a message: do more “investigation,” take your time with it, and then after the uproar has settled down announce without fanfare that Pastor Yousef has been cleared of all charges. The onus of backtracking gets puts on the locals rather than Tehran, the Iranian government gets to claim that justice has been done, and the world has its demands for Pastor Yousef’s release satisfied. I will keep after this and report any further developments, but if I were a betting man, this is how I’d bet it will go.