Anjum Sandhu, a Pakistani Christian who was on a death row since two years has been acquitted by a local court. Anjum was accused of committing blasphemy- was “clearly fabricated”, as his defense counsel terms it. The acquittal is a rare instance, as the court deemed lack of substantial evidence against Anjum.
On March 13, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Hussain Naqvi and Justice Mushtaq Ahmad, upholding justice remarked that “no renowned religious scholar from the area, who would have a broad knowledge of Islam, was associated with the case”. The judges noted: “The forensic laboratory in Lahore had no voice recognition facility… In the absence of a voice comparison report it cannot be said with certainty that the speech in question was actually made by Anjum Naz Sindhu.”
In keeping with details, in May 2015, Anjum Sandhu, went to the police in order to get his compliant registered. Two men namely Javed Naz and Jafar Ali extorted twenty thousand rupees and were demanding another fifty thousand rupees from him. The two men were arrested, however during police custody they claimed that Anjum “used blasphemous words” during a discussion about religion.
Javed Naz and Jafar Ali presented an audio recording claiming that this was a proof that Anjum had committed blasphemy. The Forensic Science Laboratory examined the audio recording and presented their opinion that it was Anjum Sandhu’s voice. On the basis of the forensic report judge pronounced him guilty. Consequently, in June 2016, a local court convicted him of blasphemy and handed him capital punishment.
One of the defense lawyers Riaz Anjum, explained that the case was “clearly fabricated”. “The judges noted that although the investigation was flawed, no evidence was found that could show if Sandhu had any inclination to discuss religion in the first place,” Riaz Anjum said adding that “It was a case of no evidence”.
A rights activist Napoleon Qayyum, remarking about the case detailed: “The blackmailing involved an audio recording of a voice that sounded like Sandhu’s. Naz, with the help of his friend, Ali, produced an audio recording with a similar voice to Sandhu’s and threatened him with dire consequences if he did not give them the money they demanded.
When they once again demanded money, Sandhu consulted with his friends and lodged a complaint with the police. The police, rather than registering a blackmail case, demanded further money from Sandhu, knowing he was running a chain of schools as a successful business”.