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Sudan opens trial of two Christians for preaching

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Two South Sudanese pastors went on trial Tuesday in Sudan on accusations of spying and crimes against the state, for which they could receive the death penalty, their lawyer said.

Yat Michael and Peter Yen were arrested during visits to the Sudanese capital Khartoum in late 2014 and early 2015, respectively.

Michael was detained when he delivered prayers at a Protestant church.

At the opening of their trial, prosecutors called for them to be convicted of crimes against the state and the constitution, as well as crimes of hatred, inciting ethnic hatred, espionage, and disrupting public order.

“Their mission is to preach the Christian religion, and there is nothing in Sudanese law against this,” said their lawyer, Muhannad al-Hussein.

The two pastors, who appeared in court wearing blue robes, were taken back to prison at the end of the hearing.

South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011, has a population that is mainly Christian or animist, while most Sudanese are Sunni Muslim.

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