Islamabad: Four suspects indicted for alleged online blasphemy

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Four blasphemy suspects indicted for allegedly posting blasphemous content on social media. In this regard an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad slammed four out of seven suspects with indictment. During a court hearing on Tuesday, September 12 the suspects were tried in the Anti-Terrorism Court.

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan

During the hearing, Anti-Terrorism Court judge Shahrukh Arjumand arraigned the four suspects, while three others are absconding. Prior to the proceedings, four suspects were brought to the court amid tight security.

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Next date of case hearing was scheduled for September 25, whilst the court directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to produce evidence from next hearing of the case. FIA was also directed to hook the three absconding suspects and produce a separate charge sheet against them. ATC directed FIA to produce witnesses during next court hearing.

Previously, the FIA submitted charge sheet against the four suspects being tried by the ATC. Afterwards the FIA was directed to hand out copies of charge sheets to the four suspects, whereas, September 12 was fixed as date for indictment.

Formerly, on March 19 FIA registered an FIR against these seven suspects including charges under sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 11 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (PECA), 2016, and Sections 6(f), 7(h), 8 & 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The charge sheet presented by FIA included forensic report and the alleged blasphemous content posted by the suspects. The Anti-Terrorism Court had earlier dismissed bail plea of one of the suspects. Previously, in a similar case, another Pakistani 30- year-old Taimoor Raza was indicted after been booked over blasphemy charges.

Taimoor Raza was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad during an argument on social media. A court in Bahawalpur handed out capital punishment to him, which remains the harshest yet for such a crime.