Pastor Hamid Pourmand, a former Iranian army colonel, was arrested when security police raided a church conference of more than 80 church leaders that he was attending. He had become a Christian about 25 years ago. During his military career, his superiors had acknowledged that he was a Christian and he had even been excused from observing the Muslim month of fasting. However, it is illegal for a non-Muslim to serve as a military officer; and on February 17, 2005, a Tehran military court sentenced Hamid to three years in jail and ordered his transfer to Evin Prison. Found guilty on charges of deceiving the Iranian armed forces, his sentence automatically discharges him from the army, cuts off his regular income, and eliminates his military pension. His wife and two teenage children were forced to leave their military housing.
In addition, he was charged with apostasy from Islam and proselytizing Muslims to Christianity. Both charges are punishable by death. Because news of his appearance before an Islamic Shariah court in Tehran leaked out to the international press he was taken by armored car to Bandar-i Bushehr to stand trail. On May 28th an Islamic judge acquitted pastor Pourmand of these charges. According to Compass Direct, the judge reportedly stated “I don’t know who you are, but the rest-of-the-world does,” a clear reference to the international attention that this case has attracted.
Photo courtesy Compass Direct