Iranian Court Overturns Pastor's Death Sentence

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An Iranian pastor who received a death sentence for apostasy in the country has been moved off death row, according to his lawyer.

Iran's Supreme Court recently overturned the death sentence of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told Agence France-Presse said Sunday.

Just days earlier, the court had upheld the conviction and death sentence of a lower court on the 32-year-old Nadarkhani. He is a former Muslim and remains imprisoned near the city of Rasht.

The house church pastor was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government decision forcing Christian school children to be taught Islam.

"The Supreme Court has annulled the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Rasht , asking the accused to repent," said Nadarkhani' attorney Dadkhah.

To repent according to Islamic Sharia law means Nadarkhani must renounce his conversion to Christianity and return a Muslim way of life.

Dadkhah said he has only heard the Supreme Court ruling read to him over the phone and he needs to go to Rasht to read it for himself.

Nadarkhani's lawyer is also facing nine years in prison, which a Tehran court handed him on Sunday for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime," according to AFP. He is also barred from practicing law for 10 years.

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