KATHMANDU, Nepal — Four Christians in Nepal who were sentenced to five years in prison on false charges of “witchcraft” and “violence” were released Sept. 22 after a high court annulled their convictions, church leaders said.
Lali Pun, Bimkali Budha, Suk Lal Pariyar and Ganga Pariyar had been accused in Salyan District Court in May 2016 for praying for a mentally troubled woman, according to the Federation of National Christian Nepal (FNCN). In December 2016 they were convicted of witchcraft, violence and holding the woman against her will, though she testified that she was not mistreated or held captive and had been healed by the prayer.
In addition to the prison sentences, the Christians had been told to pay a fine of 50,000 rupees ($475), an overwhelming sum in Nepal. The arrest and conviction of the four Christians came at a time when Nepal’s Hindu majority was increasingly influencing authorities to harass Christians. While Nepal has long outlawed evangelizing, a new constitution in 2015 and the release of related laws in August reinforced existing prohibitions against evangelizing. Hindu interests have used them to falsely accuse Christians. (MS)