Life Sentences for 'Blasphemy' in Pakistan Overturned

Life Sentences for 'Blasphemy' in Pakistan Overturned


A court acquitted a Christian couple of "blasphemy" charges May 17, overturning their life sentences, Compass Direct News reports. The couple's lawyer, Chaudhry Naeem Shakir, said Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi of the Lahore High Court accepted their appeal because prosecutors failed to prove allegations that 32-year-old Munir Masih and his wife, Ruqayya, defiled the Quran or insulted Muhammad on Dec. 8, 2008. The allegations by Muhammad Nawaz in Mustafabad, Kasur district, came under sections 295-B and 295-C respectively of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which are routinely employed to exact revenge on Christians over personal disputes; in this case, the Christian couple's children had fought with the family of Muhammad Yousaf, who directed his driver, Nawaz, to file the blasphemy charges. A trial court had exonerated them from charges of blasphemy against Muhammad in 2010 but sentenced them to life imprisonment (25 years in Pakistan) for allegedly defiling the Quran. The couple then filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court, pleading not guilty. "During the trial, not a single witness spoke against the couple regarding the allegations of blasphemy," Shakir said. "Therefore, [Kasur Additional Session] Judge Muhammad Ajmal Hussain on March 2, 2010, acquitted the couple in 295-C but awarded them life imprisonment under Section 295-B."

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