Religious freedom advocacy, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, has expressed concern over delays in the trial of four men, including two pastors, facing charges including waging war against the state, in Sudan.

A hearing for the four men - Rev Hassan Abduraheem, Rev Kuwa Shamal, Petr Jašek and Abdulmonem Abdumawla - was scheduled to take place in Khartoum on 31st October but, in the latest in a series of postponements - previously causes of which have included the absence of the judge or prosecution and a lack of transport for the defendants to bring them from prison, was rescheduled for 3rd November. The men are jointly charged with at least seven crimes including waging war against the state and espionage both of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.

The case against Rev Abduraheem, Mr Jašek and Mr Abdumawla centres on the provision of finances for the medical needs of Ali Omer, a young man from Darfur who was injured in a demonstration in 2013. The prosecution alleges that $US5,000 Mr Jašek donated towards Mr Omer’s treatment was in reality support for rebel movements in the South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur regions. Rev Shamal was not involved in fundraising for Mr Omer’s treatment but CSW believes he has been included in the case due to his senior position in the Sudan Church of Christ, his relationship with Rev Abduraheem and his ethnicity.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of the UK-based CSW, said the organisation was concerned by the continuing delays in the trial of the men. "Fair trial principles stipulate that criminal proceedings should occur within a reasonable time," he said in a statement. "In this case, the constant postponements due to the absence of the judge or prosecutor or failure to transport the men to court are prolonging proceedings unnecessarily, which is unacceptable, given the length of time these men have already spent in custody."

He said CSW continued to call for the "unconditional and immediate release of these unjustly detained men". "In the event the trial continues, we urge the government of Sudan to ensure it proceeds in line with fair trial principles outlined in Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, to which Sudan is a party."