|Angry Pakistani demonstrators last year set ablaze more than 100 houses of Pakistani Christians during a protest over alleged blasphemous remarks by Sawan Masih, who got a death sentence on Thursday. Photo: AFP|
( March 29, 2014, Karachi, Sri Lanka Guardian) A Session court in Lahore sentenced Sawan Masih to death.
Sawan Masih a Christian resident of Joseph Colony Lahore, who was accused of blasphemy in March 2013, as a reaction over 150 houses were burnt by the Muslims.
Additional Session Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza sentenced Sawan to death and a fine of 200,000 Rupees under section 295 C,
The court had accepted the bail for those who had burnt down Joseph Colony, but Sawan Masih has been under trail.
The legal team representing Masih was very confident as it is on the record that when Sawan Masih was accused by the Muslim barber both were drunk.
Asia Bibi who was sentenced to death by the session court has been in prison since 2009. The High Court has finally accepted to hear the appeal against the death sentence, but the trail is being delayed due to the pressure of the extremist groups, the next hearing has been set for 14th April.
Life For All Pakistan has strongly condemned the sentence, " in Pakistan even being accused of Blasphemy is equivalent to being sentenced, the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are used to settle personal vendettas, Joseph Colony incident is a clear example of intolerance and misuse of the Blasphemy laws...the people who made over 200 families homeless were released by the court, but a person who was falsely accused has been sentenced to death. The Former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari had placed a 5 year moratorium on executions in June 2008. However, the hiatus was interrupted in November 2012 when the military executed a soldier who was found guilty of murder. Since then, no one has been sent to the gallows after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again suspended the use of death penalty even after the moratorium expired in June last year, 8,526 are on the death row till the end of 2013. We will be protesting against Masih`s sentence and justice for Asia Bibi on Sunday after the Church service. We pray for Sawan Masih and Asia bibi who await justice. We will have a day of prayer for the persecuted in the next week.
Masih denied the charges against him, asserting that he had said nothing in respect of the Prophet Mohammed and that false accusations were made against him because of a property dispute. He had been in jail since his arrest in March last year.
Blasphemy remains a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan. Former governor Salman Taseer and Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti were assassinated in early 2011 after the two spoke out against the misuse of blasphemy laws.
Pakistan has used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.