Christians cleared of murder, convicted of new charges.

Five Christians cleared of murder charges related to
the death of a Christian convert from an unidentified
long-term illness on 21 June 2014, have been found
guilty of causing death by “performance of the
medical profession without a license” after praying
for her.

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According to the non-profit advocacy organisation
Human Rights Watcher for Lao Religious Freedom
(HRWLRF), on 12 February 2015, the People’s Court
of Savannakhet Province based the decision to
convict the Christians on Article 82 of the Lao Penal
Code, Performance of Medical Profession without
License. The Article prohibits the treatment of
patients without an official license for the purpose of
generating gains; where the offender has caused a
patient to become an invalid or to die, there offender
shall be punished by three months to five years of
imprisonment and fined 500,000 to 5,000,000 Lao
Kip (approximately £40-£400).
The five Christians, Pastor Kaithong, Puphet, Muk,
Hasadee, and Tiang, were originally accused of
murdering Mrs Chan, a convert to Protestant
Christianity. She was suffering from an unidentified
two-year illness when she died en route from
hospital back to her home in Atsaphangthong
district on 21 June 2014.
The village chief granted permission for a Christian
funeral, but later ordered Pastor Kaithong, who was
conducting the funeral, to stop the proceedings.
Kaithong appealed to the chief of Atsaphangthong
district, but on 23 June 2014, the village chief and
the police authorities arrested Kaithong and the four
other Christians. They were accused of giving Chan
medication on the journey back from the hospital
which caused her death. However, in August 2014,
Savannakhet Office of Prosecutors ruled that the
five did not commit any criminal offence.
The accused maintain that they did not use any
drug or material remedy, but only prayed for Mrs
Chan in accordance with her request for prayer for
healing. Furthermore, according to HRWLRF, Mrs
Chan’s death did not occur at the location where the
five were praying for her, but en route from the
hospital in Savannakhet.
CSW’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said,
“We are alarmed to hear that the five Lao Christians
arrested in June 2014 could face up to five years in
prison. According to this report from HRWLRF, the
Christians prayed for Mrs Chan in accordance with
her request and did not use any kind of medicine or
drug. We urge the People’s Court of Savannakhet to
urgently review this case, and repeat our call for
the Lao authorities to release the five Christians
and to investigate the actions of the village chief
and police in this case without delay.”
For further information or to arrange interviews
please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at
Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329
0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email
kiri@csw.org.uk or visit http://www.csw.org.uk .
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian
organisation working for religious freedom through
advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of
justice.

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