Imprisoned Christian Killed by Police

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

RAWALPINDI (Worthy News)-- A Christian pastor accused of blasphemy was shot and killed by a policeman Thursday inside Pakistan's Adiyala jail in Rawalpindi, according to International Christian Concern.

Pastor Zafar Bhatti had been receiving death threats in prison from other inmates and his guards before being murdered.

Bhatti was accused of blasphemy back in 2012 after a police report alleged that he had sent blasphemous text messages to Ahmed Khan, then deputy secretary of Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, a Pakistani Muslim organization.

On July 16 Bhatti was arrested and then tortured for days as police attempted to extract a confession from him. But when Bhatti did not admit to the allegations against him, the police sent him to court to be formally charged.

When Bhatti's family asked police why he had been beaten so badly, they replied: "The family should thank God that he was still alive, otherwise, they would have killed him for what he had done."

Bhatti was remanded to Adiyala jail on December 18 after the court refused to accept his bail plea.

At least 48 defendants accused of blasphemy have died from "extra-judicial" justice in Pakistan. Non-Muslims are both disproportionately accused and convicted for blasphemy; in 2013, of the 36defendants accused of blasphemy, 30 were religious minorities and 12 of those were Christians.

Although Christians constitute only two percent of Pakistan's population, one-third of all blasphemy accusations made in 2013 were filed against them.

"Beyond being disproportionately accused and convicted of blasphemy, the vast majority of blasphemy accusations brought against Christians are false," said William Stark, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia. "Unfortunately, pressure for Islamic radical groups and general discrimination against Christians in Pakistan has transformed trial courts into little more than rubber stamps for blasphemy accusations brought against Christians, regardless of the evidence brought to bear in the case."