Christian Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy Acquitted on Appeal

January 30, 2013

From AsiaNews.it:

Barkat Masih, 56 (pictured), was born to a Hindu family but converted to Christianity. A native of the city of Bahawalpur in Punjab province, he was involved (although innocent) in a case of blasphemy on October 1, 2011, and was sentence in the first instance to the death penalty.

Local sources said that the man, a security guard by profession, got caught up in a workers dispute, who wanted to illegally occupy a portion of land. He prevented them from entering an office, where property documents were stored. At his refusal, two Muslim workers - Muhammad Saleem and Muhammad Shoaib - insulted and threatened him, and promised to "make him pay."

They reported him to police, who carried arrested him on charges of having insulted the Prophet Muhammad, a crime that can lead to the death penalty under Article 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, after spending 18 months in prison on 28 January, Judge Javed Ahmed of Bahawalpur High Court upheld the appeal and acquitted the accused because the crime does not exist.

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