Court awards death to five for burning Christian couple

Casey Mills
Ноября 27, 2016

On Wednesday, however, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court issued the five death sentences for individuals believed to have called for mobs to congregate and attack the couple.

An anti-terror court in Lahore convicted the group for the killings of Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi in 2014 after the pair were accused of blasphemy.

An anti-terrorism court yesterday awarded death sentence to five persons and two years imprisonment to eight others for burning a Christian couple alive in 2014.

Shahzad Masih, 26, and his 24-year-old wife Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, were beaten, tortured and burned alive in a furnace.

The allegations of blasphemy came when a week before they were killed, Shahzad's father, who is a religious leader in the community passed away.

Mrs Bibi said when Shama threw the ashes into the rubbish she did not mean to disrespect Islam, as she was illiterate and had no idea what the amulets contained.

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While the government eventually processed 103 people in relation to the case, and the AFP puts the number of participants at "hundreds", Dawn estimates that number at "over 1,000". Police officers who investigated the mob lynching confirmed that there was no evidence that a crime was committed, British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) reports. Of these, 90 were acquitted by the anti-terror court on November 23, including Yousaf Gujjar, the brick kiln owner believed to have spread the false blasphemy rumor.

Among those released was Yousaf Gujjar, the owner of the brick kiln in which the couple worked.

Anjum said the owner of the brick kiln, who had been accused of locking the couple up as they tried to flee for fear they would default on their debt to him, was among those who were acquitted.

As it turned out, the court found out that the Christian couple only disposed pages from a book with inscriptions in different languages made by Shahzad's father before the Muslim mob, who wrongly thought they were pages from the Quran, attacked them.

They were attacked by a mob of Muslims after a claim they had ripped up a Koran was shouted from mosque loud speakers.

A date is yet to be decided for the five men's execution but a source said it could be years before the death sentence is carried out, if at all. "This small justice could still end up costing us even more".

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