Wednesday, November 23, 2016

ATC sentences five to death over burning of Christian couple

The ATC also ordered eight other suspects to serve two years in prison. The court also released 93 suspects in the case


LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday gave death sentences to five suspects involved in assaulting and burning to death a Christian couple, almost two years ago.

The court was hearing the case pertaining to the mob beating and setting to fire on a brick kiln of a Christian couple, who allegedly desecrated a copy of Quran.

Those who received the death sentences include Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kambho, Irfan, Hanif and Ishtiaq.

The ATC also ordered eight other suspects to serve two years in prison. The  court also released 93 suspects in the case.

Witnesses described how an angry mob of hundreds of people had set upon the couple near the town of Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab in 2014, attacking them and then throwing their bodies into a brick kiln. It is unclear whether they were still alive when tossed into the kiln. 

The deaths of Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi caused outrage in Pakistan and saw other Christian families living near their home in Punjab flee the area in fear.

At times, blasphemy and unproven accusations can lead to violence.

Riaz Anjum, the lawyer representing the couple´s family, said a total of 103 people had been charged in the case. But the court in the eastern city of Lahore had acquitted 90, including the owner of the brick kiln. 

"The five people awarded the death sentence were involved in dragging, beating and burning the couple while the other eight played a supportive role according to the judgement," Anjum said. Senior prosecutor Khurram Khan confirmed the ruling.