Lahore court moved to call off death penalty of a blasphemy accused Christian couple

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A Pakistani court has been moved to annul the capital punishment of a Christian couple; convicted of committing blasphemy. Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kausar were awarded death sentence after being accused of sending blasphemous text messages.

blasphemy cases against Pakistani Christians

A local organisation Farrukh Saif Foundation has been providing legal aid to the tattered Christian couple. Earlier a court had awarded Shafqat and Shagufta capital punishment in 2014. Since then, the Christians have been languishing behind the bars. Farrukh Said Foundation has filed a petition in the court seeking annulment of their death penalty.

In this regard, their defense counsel says that despite the fact that police has failed to produce any sort of evidence against the Christian couple, yet they were convicted of committing blasphemy. Moreover, “The text messages were written in English but both of the accused were uneducated and incapable of writing proper Urdu let alone English”, he noted.

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After almost a year of imprisonment, the Christians couple was sentenced to death on April 4, 2013. The police claimed that the SIM card was registered on Shagufta’ name “although he police failed to recover any mobile phone or SIM card allegedly registered in Shagufta’s name.” The sole evidence brought up by the police was a receipt from a cellular company; which is not good enough to prove the Christian couple guilty of committing blasphemy.

The law experts from Farrukh Saif Foundation say, “Addition Sessions judge succumbed to Islamist pressure and handed down the death sentence. The whole trial was concluded inside the boundary walls of the prison due to fears for the couple’s security. The blasphemy law, misused, has put hundreds of members of minority communities behind bars. The law is grossly abused to target minorities. In most cases, people are falsely and maliciously accused, just for personal revenge.”

After the allegations were brought against the Christian couple, police subject Shafqat to intense torture, and bashed him in front of his wife Shagufta. The police further applied third degree torture to make him confess that he had committed blasphemy.

Shafqat and Shagufta have four children; who are being frequently visited by the activists of the Farrukh Saif Foundation. It was also disclosed that Shafqat was badly injured in an accident in 2004; which rendered him confined to wheel chair because he had suffered spinal injury.