Christian set free in Pakistan
SEVEN years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy a Pakistani Christian has been set free.
On 3 April 2013 Lahore High Court justices Khaja Amtiaz Ahmed and Khalid Mehmood Khan overturned the conviction of Younis Masih and ordered his immediate release from prison.
On 10 September 2005 Masih was arrested after he had asked a party of Muslim men the night before if they would lower the volume of their singing. The men responded by attacking Masih and beat him unconscious. Islamic leaders then incited a mob to burn Christians’ homes, saying Masih had committed blasphemy. More than 100 Christian families were forced to flee.
His lawyers alleged that to placate the mob the police arrested Masih. A Lahore Court sentenced him to death on 30 May 2007. In overturning his conviction the appeals court held there was no proof of blasphemy.
In a statement released last week Release International, which had been working with lawyers from the Legal Aid for Destitute and Settlement society in Pakistan, welcomed the news.
Release chief executive Paul Robinson said: “We are celebrating with Younis, his family and our partners who have supported them for all these years. We hope this sets a precedent for other victims of Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws who should now be released.”
Release commended the “bravery of High Court judges” who released Masih, “despite intense pressure from Muslim hardliners.”