Published On: Fri, Mar 28th, 2014

Pakistan: Sawan Masih Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy

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March 28, 2014
A Christian man was given the death penalty on Thursday on charges of blasphemy. Additional District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ghulam Mustafa announced the verdict at the trial held in jail due to security concerns.
Sawan Masih, a resident of Joseph Colony and the father of two, was also fined Rs200,000. The incident of blasphemy was followed by the arson at Joseph Colony, a Christian locality, where more than 200 houses were destroyed in 2013.
Seven witnesses recorded their statements against Sawan during the trial while two appeared in his favour. In his statement before the court, Sawan said he did not commit any blasphemy and accused Shahid Imran, the complainant in the FIR, and Shafiq Ahmed, who he says have made him the scapegoat in the case.
On March 7, 2013, hundreds of protesters set ablaze more than 200 houses belonging to Christians in Joseph Colony, after Sawan was accused of blasphemy. Three churches were also burnt in the locality. A day before the incident, police forced the Christians to vacate their houses, saying they would also be attacked otherwise.
An FIR was registered under the Anti Terrorism Act against 83 people accused of the arson; a supplementary statement nominated 50 more in the FIR. The case is still pending in the Anti Terrorism Courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2014.

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