A Christian was sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan
A court in Bahawalpur, Pakistan on Tuesday (May 30) handed the death penalty to a 22-year-old Christian on an unsubstantiated conviction under the country’s blasphemy laws, sources said.
Lazar Allah Rakha, attorney for Noman Masih, said that the sessions court announced its verdict at the New Central Jail Bahawalpur, in Punjab Province, though the prosecution failed to provide evidence of the blasphemy charge against him.
“I’m extremely disappointed by the conviction, because there was absolutely no case,” Rakha told Morning Star News. “There was no proof against Noman, and none of the witnesses produced by police could corroborate the blasphemy allegation against him.”
Masih’s trial concluded in January, but the court repeatedly postponed the verdict on various pretexts, Rakha said. Masih was convicted of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, which carries a mandatory death sentence under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes.
“Despite so many contradictions in the case, I’m at a loss to understand why Bahawalpur Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Hafeez Ur Rehman sentenced Noman instead of acquitting him,” Rakha said. “This is murder of justice.”
The attorney said the court would issue its written verdict in a day or two, after which he would file an appeal against the conviction with the Bahawalpur Bench of the Lahore High Court within the mandatory seven-day period.
Regarding the status of a separate blasphemy case against Noman in Bahawalnagar, Rakha said the trial had concluded and the court was expected to announce a verdict in June.