By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
ORAN, ALGERIA (Worthy News)– For nearly nine months, an Algerian Christian convert from Islam still waits for a ruling on his appeal to the severe sentence handed him for allegedly proselytizing and defaming Islam and its prophet, according to Morning Star News.
Krimo Siaghi was arrested on April 14 in Oran after a discussion with a merchant; although prosecutors had only requested two years in prison and fine of $690 (US), Siaghi was sentenced to five years and a fine of $2,760 (US).
Siaghi said the judge told him that leaving Islam for another religion was a crime that he would regret.
Christian leaders in Algeria believe government officials influenced the judge’s strict sentence and that the ongoing court delay was meant to divert international scrutiny from Siaghi who now languishes in a legal limbo.
Siaghi, who is pending his appeal, said he went to a local phone store where the merchant questioned him about his religious beliefs; after Siaghi told him he no longer believed in Islam since meeting Jesus, the mechant tried to force him to recite the creed for converting back to Islam. But when Siaghi refused, the merchant filed a complaint of proselytizing and of defaming Muhammad and Islam.
Siaghi denied he said anything against Islam, and though his accuser failed to appear at the hearing, a statement of his accusations were read in court. The merchant reportedly said he saw Siaghi give a Christian CD to a Muslim, but that accusation was never mentioned in his initial court statement.
Algeria’s population of 37.1 million is more than 99 percent Sunni Muslim, according to the State Department.