Pakistan Christians Jailed For 10 Years For "Blasphemy"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife) --Two Pakistani Christian men spent another day in prison Monday, November 27, after a court jailed them for 10 years on charges of "blasphemy" against the Quran, considered a holy book by Muslims.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws Judge Muhammad Islam of Faisalabad’s Anti-Terrorism Court delivered the prison sentence and a 25,000 rupee (US$414) this weekend in an apparently closed hearing.

The defendants, James Masih, 65, and his neighbor, Buta Masih, 70, were arrested by police last October 8 for allegedly burning pages of the Quran. They have denied
the charges.

However the court said Saturday, November 24, the men were guilty under the controversial Section 295 B of Pakistan’s Penal Code—also known as the blasphemy law.


Defense lawyer Khalil Tahir Sindhu said the 10-year sentence was illegal, as desecration of Islam’s holy book calls for life imprisonment.

It shows the judge doubts the two Christians are guilty and had made the ruling "under pressure," said Tahir Sindhu, who plans to launch an appeal at the High Court in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province.

There is “no direct evidence against the two men who rather seem to be the victims of a personal vendetta. We believe that the verdict is the result of pressures by extremists. This explains why it took four days for the court to reach its decision,” he told reporters.

The sentencing came just over two weeks after 58-year-old Ranjha Masih was acquitted by the Lahore High Court on blasphemy charges, ending eight years and seven months of imprisonment. He underwent surgery this weekend for diabetes, one of several ailments he has as a result of a lack of medical attention and torture while in prison, fellow Christians said. (With BosNewsLife reporting and BosNewsLife Research).

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