Categories Religion in the world

Pakistani Christian faced with death sentence for blasphemy acquitted

A Pakistani Christian who had faced a death sentence for two years has now been acquitted.

His lawyer said the case against the accused Anjum Sandhu had been ‘clearly fabricated’, according to World Watch Monitor. Sandhu was acquitted on March 13.

The case began when Sandhu, from Gujranwala in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, went to the police to report the extortion of 20,000 rupees (£122) from him by Javed Naz and Jafar Ali, who were allegedly demanding an additional 50,000 rupees (£306).

However, Sandhu, a businessman who runs several schools, was accused of blasphemy by the men. They produced a recording purporting to provide evidence that Sandhu had ‘used blasphemous words’ at one of his schools.

Human rights activist Napoleon Qayyum said Sandhu was blackmailed with the recording by the men, who threatened ‘dire consequences’ if he did not give them more money. When Sandhu protested to the police, his case was not heard, while forensic scientists convinced a judge that it was Sandhu’s voice in the recording. He was subsequently received his sentence for blasphemy, in June 2016.

‘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,’ said Riaz Anjum, one of Sandhu’s defence lawyers present at the appeal.

The judge’s ruling said: ‘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 Sandhu.’

‘It was a case of no evidence,’ Riaz Anjum said.