The trial of four defendants, including two local pastors and a foreign Christian worker, accused of “spying” continued in Khartoum yesterday (26 Sep.), with the prosecutor presenting more “evidence”.

The hearing against Rev. Hassan Taour, Rev. Kuwa Shamal (both ethnic Nuba), Czech aid worker Petr Jasek and Darfuri graduate Abdulmonem Abdumawla saw the prosecution presenting videos to back up charges, which include providing support for rebels in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains (in the South Kordofan region), sources close to the trial told World Watch Monitor.

The defence lawyers challenged the presented material’s relevance to the case, with the judge apparently agreeing and warning the prosecution to come better prepared, the sources added.

The hearing was adjourned until 17 Oct.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Jasek is charged with the propagation of false news. Along with Taour, Shamal and Abdumawla, he is accused of at least seven crimes – including waging war against the state – some of which carry the death penalty.

During an earlier hearing on 29 Aug., the prosecutor accused the defendants of highlighting alleged Christian suffering in war-ravaged areas of the country.

Between Dec. last year and the start of the trial, the four had mostly been held without charge, in violation of Sudan’s own law.

Following South Sudan’s independence in 2011, President Omar al-Bashir – wanted by the ICC for crimes including “genocide” – has reasserted Sudan as an Islamic state governed by Sharia. Pressure has been ratcheted up against Christians, including in the Nuba Mountains, an area adjacent to the now independent South.

According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, Sudan is ranked 8th in a list of 50 countries where Christians come under the most pressure. The country has a rating of “extreme” and for the past two years has remained among the top 10 offenders.

Taour is suffering from ulcers, and is scheduled to see a doctor on Thursday, 29 Sep.