Three Sentenced to Death Penalty Over Blasphemy

The Anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad sentenced three men to death on Friday for committing blasphemy on social media.

An Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) in the capital, Islamabad sentenced three men accused of committing blasphemy on social media to a death penalty on Friday, January 8.

ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas announced the verdict in the presence of the three accused, identified as Nasir Ahmad Sultan, Rana Noman and Abdul Waheed. Professor Anwar Ahmed is the fourth among the accused however he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and was imposed of a fine of Rs100,000 for defaming religion.

The court ruled all accused men have committed blasphemy, the ATC also permanent arrest warrants against the four absconding accused.

These cases had been pending in the court since the past four years. The ATC finally completed the trials and reserved its decision on December 15, 2020.

In October last year, a Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench which is headed by Justice Syed Shehbaz Ali Rizvi, released a man who had been sentenced to the death penalty on blasphemy charges in March 2014. However, the convict, by the name of, Sawan Masih, had filed an appeal against the death sentence issued to him by the trial court. The appellant presented several objections to the police investigation and prosecution.

Sawan Masih told the Lohore court that the police had registered the case 35 hours after the alleged blasphemy occurrence, alleging that it showed disingenuous intent in the case.

Ultimately, there were contradictions in the story of the FIR that was narrated by the complainant before the trial court,  Masih contended.

The appellant further stated that the blasphemy charges were fabricated by those who wanted to occupy the land of Joseph Colony, subsequently asking the court to reconsider his conviction and order his acquittal after proving his case.

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